Many of you know me. I went to school in Kenai, starting in the first grade, and my parents lived in Kenai about a mile past Wildwood. Altogether, I have lived in Kenai and Soldotna in excess of 55 years. I worked on construction of the first platform in the Cook Inlet, the pipelines in North Kenai and the Cook Inlet, and as a truck driver moving oil rigs for exploration. Later, I started my own business – forty years of employees, payrolls, sales and property taxes and customer service. I have served on boards and commissions regularly serving this community. As a citizen who cares about our future here, I have decided that I need to comment on the race for Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor.
Tom Bearup says he wants that job. I imagine there once was a time that a person could move 2,500 miles and leave his past behind; he could come to Alaska and attempt to reinvent himself. But today, the internet and other technologies bring events of history right to our fingertips. While Mr. Bearup has certainly lived a colorful life, his financial antics and questionable decisions paint a very concerning picture. I suppose many of the same concerns I have kept him out of office in Arizona. This week, the Clarion reported that Mr. Bearup says he ran for Pinal County Sheriff in 2012 because he “needed money and a job.” I can find lots of interviews from his campaign trail in Arizona that year, but can’t find a single one where he tells the people of Arizona that what he’s really looking for is a paycheck. Rather, his stated reasons for his interest in the position of Sheriff sound familiar: “to bring financial accountability, honesty and integrity” to the office.
Fast forward two years, and on his current website, Mr. Bearup touts “Optimistic, Respectful and Accountable” as his qualities. He suggests these are the reasons you should elect him as mayor.
The voters of the Peninsula should remind Mr. Bearup that “accountable” isn’t a slogan. If he’s going to ask people to vote for him because he is accountable, then he must have shown accountability with his actions. By my measure, that would include a solid history of being accountable to his commitments including the responsibilities of elected and other positions, accountable with finances including mortgages, student loans and charitable donations, and accountable to his word including swearing to claims of residency. I don’t believe Mr. Bearup can claim a history of accountability.
Alternately, Mike Navarre has been an integral member of our community for most of his life. His time in the State Legislature and as Borough Mayor has shown us his accountability, resolve and integrity when trusted with public office. Although there may have been issues on which we disagreed, I’ve never doubted that he thoughtfully considered all options and based his decisions on what was best for our borough and its future.
I will be casting my ballot for Mike Navarre.