By Carey Restino
Following yet another evening of testimony from frustrated city residents and business owners unhappy with changes to the water and sewer rates, several city council members used their closing comments to encourage those with an interest in seeing changes to city policy to run for election.
The deadline for filing for public office seats for both the Homer City Council and a variety of seats on the Kenai Peninsula Borough is Thursday. Two three-year term council seats are open this fall and candidacy filing forms and required Alaska Public Offices Commission documents are available at the City of Homer Clerk’s Office or online at http://www.cityofhomer-ak.gov/cityclerk. To register, candidates must be at least 18, a U.S. citizen, registered to vote in the City of Homer and must be a resident for at least one year prior to Oct. 1, 2013.
One incumbent yet to file
Corbin Arno, Gus VanDyke and incumbent Bryan Zak have filed to run for the seats so far, with incumbent James Dolma yet undecided about his intent to run. Dolma said Tuesday that he would decide whether he was running later this week.
Long-time resident Corbin Arno is the first to apply for one of two Homer City Council seats available at the next general election Oct. 1. Arno, 32, who was born and raised in Homer is married with three children. He has been in the construction field for nearly 20 years and is currently the manager of Arno Construction.
He said in a previous Homer Tribune article that he is new to the political scene, has not held political office before, but feels strongly enough about how city politics is run to throw his hat into the ring. He says that city government is not listening to the people.
“City government is supposed to do what we want them to do and not what they want to do,” he said.
“I was born in this town and I’ve seen more and more regulations and it’s not the same as when I was a kid. I want to keep Homer a nice town, a small town.”
Arno believes that city government is not business friendly and the rules and regulations passed are hindering the growth of business and not helping small business.
“I manage a business in this town and I know what it takes to grow and succeed. The city is inhibiting the growth of small businesses and making it tougher for them to succeed.”
Arno is part of the “Homer Voice for Business,” a fledging, grassroots advocacy group started recently in town. The group has over 20 business members.
Recent rules and regulations such as the plastic bag ordinance, sales tax on food and sign ordinances are examples of what Arno says is government interference. He would like to see the tax on food taken off year round. “We are about the only place in Alaska that has a sales tax on food,” he said.
On the sign ordinance he commented, “When I grew up the Best Western Bidarka sign was the beacon in Homer. The city came and told them they couldn’t fix the lights on the sign for whatever reason,” he said.
“If you’re a business, you should be able to put out any sign you want, to an extent. People are not trying to ruin the beauty of this place and we have people running around taking down signs. The government is there to help us not tell us to do this or that.”
Arno also says that the cost of doing business is going up on the construction side. There are certain people in the city that are making more and more rules and regulations so that the cost of doing business is going up.
In his candidate statement, VanDyke said he has been an Alaskan for some 21 years and has seen expenses and government grow.
“There is definitely something wrong when the attitude of government is to spend, spend, spend and if they run short of money they will find some way to tax the businesses and/or individuals to pay for it,” VanDyke said. “A sad way to run any government.”
Incumbent Bryan Zak said that he brings a unique perspective to the city council.
Borough board seats open
The Kenai Peninsula Borough has several board seats open for candidates, according to its website, including four seats on the Kachemak Emergency Service Area Board — two with two-year terms and one three-year term seat. Only one candidate, Matthew Schneyer, has signed up to run for one of the three-year seats.
In a recent letter, former borough assemblywoman and member of the service area board Milli Martin said that the board is in critical need of more people to serve. With only four members serving for the past year, Martin noted she is the only member from the west side of the service area, where a new fire station is currently being built.
“We really need one more from the west since that represents almost half of our very huge service area,” Martin said.
The board meets the second Thursday of each month.
Also open for candidacy are four seats on the South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area Board. Currently, one of those seats, a three-year seat, has no candidate.
The Seldovia Recreational Service Area Board has three seats open, two three-year terms and one one-year term.
Also open for candidates is a seat on the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. The seat for District 9, serving the South Peninsula, is open, with incumbent and longtime board member Sunni Hilts running for re-election.
Forms and candidate requirements can be found online at http://www.borough.kenai.ak.us/assembly-clerk/elections/candidate-election-information or by visiting the local Homer Annex at 206 E. Pioneer Avenue. Potential candidates can also call 714-2160 for more information or email email@example.com.
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