• Referendum, propositions look at bag ban, term limits, school-improvement bond
By Carey Restino
The roster for this October’s election is set with four people filing for two Homer City Council seats and several propositions at the borough level ranging from bonds for school improvements to the term limit debate.
When the filing period closed Thursday afternoon, four candidates had signed up for two Homer City Council seats, including several candidates who prefer a business-friendly, smaller-is-better approach to local government. The council has drawn consternation from the business community in recent months as it struggled to pass revisions to the water and sewer rates, which many business owners — especially those who use a lot of water — said were anti-business. The debate sparked the creation of Homer Voice for Business, which asked the council to create an advisory group, as well as modify the water and sewer rate changes. The council voted against many of the group’s suggestions, which were brought forward as amendments to the water and sewer rate changes by councilman Bryan Zak.
Zak, who is running for re-election, spoke in support of the citizen group, saying he thought their ideas were worth merit.
Three new candidates — Corbin Arno, Gus Van Dyke and Justin Arnold — signed up to run in the Homer City Council election. Corbin Arno, manager of Arno Construction, told the Homer Tribune he wanted to see a more business-friendly city council, citing rules against plastic bags, a sales tax on food and other legislation as being anti-business.
Justin Arnold is running on a similar platform, according to his statement. Arnold put together a petition to repeal the grocery bag ban in the city, and said his time interacting with the public while gathering signatures brought the need for a change in representation to light.
“Because of the overwhelming help and support, I received with the petition, I realize that we are all sick of unnecessary laws,” he wrote in his statement. “I am running for city council because I don’t believe we need the government dictating every aspect of our daily lives, like telling us what kind of grocery bags we must use, or wasting time and resources to create laws enforcing the amount of water your shower head can use.”
Gus Van Dyke expressed a similar keep-government-small sentiment, saying the ever-growing government is too costly to residents. Van Dyke said he is not a politician but rather a local business-owner with a business ethic and knowledge of the community that he said would be beneficial on the city council.
“Homer, my town, needs to be represented by the people that make this town possible,” he wrote in his statement. “A vote for me is a vote in the right direction.”
Incumbent Bryan Zak said he is running again for his council seat because he cares about maintaining and improving the quality of life in Homer.
“We need to make smart fiscal decisions, ensure parks and community facilities are fully operational, work with local schools, the hospital, the senior center, as well as provide support for our small businesses and nonprofits,” he wrote. My goal is to encourage common-sense governance, consensus building and calm decision-making.”
Councilman James Dolma, who was appointed to office in October of last year, opted not to run for his seat. Dolma was formerly on the Homer Planning Commission and was the third-place candidate in last year’s election for two council seats. He was appointed to a seat vacated by Mayor Beth Wythe.
Little contest in borough ballot for southern Kenai Peninsula
The Kenai Peninsula Borough election ballot for the southern Kenai Peninsula will hold little contest for those looking for seats on area boards. Longtime school board member Sunni Hilts, who has served on the school board for 10 years, will run again unopposed. Hilts hails from Seldovia, and has lived in Alaska for 50 years. She said she believes boards of education are the foundation of U.S. democracy, and believes strongly in local governance.
“It has been an honor to serve on this board in this school district,” Hilts said in her candidate statement. “Together we have been part of a united effort to provide the best education possible to our students. We continue to examine our schools, our policies, and our personnel, striving to continually raise our standards and expectations.”
On the Kachemak Emergency Service Area, candidates were found to run for all seats. Ralph Crane, who says on his candidate form that he has 35 years experience in fire and emergency services, said he hopes to use his experience in emergency services to serve his community. Also running are incumbents Mike Petersen, Jeff Middleton and Matt Schneyer.
The South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area Board race features uncontested seats filed by Barbara McBride, Clyde Boyer, Jr., Doris Cabana and Ralph Broshes. Similarly, the Seldovia Recreational Service Area Board candidates Mark Janes and Vivian Rojas will run uncontested.
Referendum, propositions on the ballot
Also on the ballot this year is a referendum vote on the plastic bag ban in the City of Homer. The referendum asks, “Shall Homer City Code Chapter 5.42 prohibit sellers from providing customers with disposable plastic shopping bags be repealed?” The council voted 4-2 to ban the use of the controversial bags, which have been targeted as dangerous to the environment when not properly disposed of. The act, however, has drawn criticism from business-owners and consumers alike.
Sponsors of the ballot referendum collected the necessary 150 signatures this summer.
Also on the Kenai Peninsula Borough ballot are four proposition questions focusing on property tax exemptions, a $23 million bond for school roof replacements and improvements to the Homer High School field, and two propositions concerning the repeal of term limits. The propositions read:
• Proposition 1: Shall Kenai Peninsula Borough Initiative Ordinance 2013-02, Section 1, be ratified? Initiative Ordinance 2013-02, Section 1, would increase the allowable residential property tax exemption for qualifying taxpayers from $20,000 to $50,000. If approved by a majority of the voters, voting on the question, the ordinance shall take effect Jan. 1, 2014.
• Proposition 2: Shall the Kenai Peninsula Borough borrow up to $22,987,000 through the issuance of general obligation bonds? The general obligation bond proceeds will be used to pay costs of planning, designing, site preparation, constructing, acquiring, renovating, installing and equipping educational capital improvement projects consisting of a new Homer High School field and roof replacements at Tustumena Elementary School, Skyview School, Soldotna Middle School, Homer Middle School, Paul Banks School, Kenai Central High School, Soldotna High School, Kenai Middle School, Kenai Alternative School and Ninilchik School, and similar education capital improvements in the borough.
• Proposition 3A: Shall Ordinance 2013-20 (Smith) Substitute, which repeals term limits for assembly members, be enacted?
• Proposition 3B: Shall Ordinance 2013-02 (Smith) Substitute, Section 2, providing for an increase in assembly term limits from two to three consecutive full terms with a required 180-day break in service before further service is allowed, be ratified?
Voters must have registered or provided registration updates by Sept. 1 and in-person and special needs voting begins Sept. 16. The absentee by mail application deadline is Sept. 23. Election day will be Oct. 1 this year. Information about early voting and registration can be found on the city of Homer and Kenai Peninsula Borough websites.
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