Dale Bagley enters race for borough mayor

Dale Bagley enters race for borough mayor

Dale Bagley has entered to race to be the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s next mayor.

Bagley filed his letter of intent to run with the Alaska Public Offices Commission on Thursday. The position will be open after Borough Mayor Mike Navarre terms out in October.

The move to run again is a continuation of a long history of public involvement on the peninsula. Bagley was the borough’s mayor from 1999-2005, has served on the Soldotna City Council and is currently a member of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, having been elected to it in 1995, 2013 and 2016.

“I did enjoy it the last time I did it,” Bagley said. “I was also very glad that there are term limits. I think it’s great that there’s been other people that have come in.”

Bagley owns Redoubt Realty in Soldotna with his wife, Debbie.

“I’ve been here my whole life and the Kenai Peninsula … is a great place to live, work and play,” he said.

Balancing the budget will be a major focus for the borough in the upcoming term, but no more so than usual, Bagley said. He referenced his previous terms as mayor starting in 1999, when he said the state was short on finances as well.

“We had challenges then and we’ll have challenges in the future too,” he said.

As for other issues facing the borough, Bagley said it’s hard to predict what will be important to residents in the future. The borough is currently defending itself in a lawsuit over its invocation policy brought by plaintiffs represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska. Bagley said this will more greatly affect assembly members than the borough mayor going forward, and that lawsuits against the borough are not new.

One area Bagley has been heavily involved in is the governance of Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna. The hospital’s multi-phase expansion began while he was mayor, with phase one’s construction taking place at the end of his final term. The hospital is now in phase five, Bagley said, and phase six would be another three-story tower on the side of the hospital’s specialty clinic.

Expansion and development of the hospital is a worthwhile effort, Bagley said.

“You’re keeping heath care money on the Kenai Peninsula instead of losing it to Anchorage or Seattle or Arizona,” he said.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Healthcare Task Force met for more than a year starting in 2015 to analyze the borough’s hospital service area structure and decide whether changes needed to be made to improve health care on the peninsula. It was the second iteration of a health care task force in a decade — the first, held in 2010, considered whether to partner with or sell the hospitals to a private firm. Ultimately, the assembly voted to keep the hospitals under borough control. The 2015 task force briefly debated the option of selling the hospitals, but after a consultant report advised against it, the topic fell by the wayside.

“I definitely don’t support selling our local hospital,” Bagley said. “I think people have been very, very happy with it.”

The task force has also discussed consolidating the peninsula’s two hospital service areas into one, and considered suggesting the borough adopt areawide health powers when finalizing its recommendations to the assembly. Instead, it recommended the assembly explore alternative structural and authority options that would address gaps in health care on the peninsula.

“I probably would like to see borough-wide hospital powers, but I’m not sure the residents in this area want to take on South Peninsula’s debt,” Bagley said

He said he also isn’t sure that South Peninsula Hospital would want to be part of the consolidation, and that borough-wide powers won’t happen in the near future.

As for the borough as a whole, Bagley said he doesn’t have specific goals or a vision in mind, but that he wants to keep it the same great place to live, work and play.

Sterling resident Charlie Pierce filed a letter of intent for the mayor’s position with the Alaska Public Offices Commission in October 2016, and Soldotna resident Linda Hutchings submitted her letter the following month.

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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