Soldotna resident Tyson Cox is seeking a seat in District 4 — encompassing the Soldotna area — on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. The seat is currently held by Dale Bagley. According to his candidate file, he works in real estate and property management. He has been an Alaska resident for 25 years, his file says. He attended the University of Alaska Anchorage and earned a bachelor’s degree in education, with a minor in mathematics. He currently serves on the Soldotna City Council.
What qualifies you to serve on the assembly?
I’ve been on our city council for the last three years. I’m also a local business owner, which means I’ve worked with money and budgeting quite a bit. I’ve lived here for over 25 years and I have kids in our school system. Things our borough is taxed with getting done — school is a big one. Having kids in our school system is kind of a big deal, since right now, there are no other assembly members with school-age children. I’ve been on the board of equalization for several years. I was on the election stakeholders group. I’ve been a volunteer in our area. I volunteer at our church. I teach some classes there where I work with youth.
Why are you pursuing a seat and what goals do you have?
We need to balance the budget and need to look at what quality of life do we want, what services we want. Not my services, but what services does the community want. How will we provide those and from what funds. I think it’s usually easy to get the public on board if it’s something that they want. Promoting responsible education funding. Can we always fund to the cap? I don’t know. We will fund education as highly as possible. I also want to encourage local industry. We have our three big money providers — we have fishing, tourism and we have oil and gas. Those are all on the downturn at the moment. We need to start utilizing our resources and look at bringing in other forms of economic development.
Would you support new taxes or look for cuts to balance the budget?
First, try to find any efficiencies possible. Next would be to make any cuts that could be made and still give quality services that we want. Last would be to look at any kind of new taxation.
How can the borough encourage higher voter turnout?
I do support going to a mail-in hybrid. The hybrid would give people the ability to do either, so if you are comfortable with coming into the polls and you would like to do that. Or if you would rather do it from your home, which a lot of our community already does. In some communities that’s the only way we vote and that’s been very successful. I’m for having that as an option. It’s something we need to look at seriously, since we have aging equipment, which we have to deal with. We have some ADA compliance issues that need to be dealt with around the first of the year. The election stakeholders group did give six suggestions. I do think it’s valuable to at least be looking into them.
The offering of invocations during assembly meetings has become a divisive issue over the last few years, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars. Ordinances have been introduced to rid the practice altogether. Where do you stand on that issue?
The invocation was fine as is, in my opinion, when it was a well wishing of the assembly to do a good job and make good choices. I do believe on any side that it’s mostly being used as a soap box and people are putting their agendas into it, which is not the intent. Since we’ve gotten so far from the intent, I’m not sure if it’s something we need to have anymore. I do think it’s up to the people to decide that.
A record number of teachers retired from the district last year. What can the assembly do, whether through education funding or other ways, to retain teachers in the district?
It all comes down to money, and there are some restraints even on the borough and some of those restraints come with federal restrictions. We only have a certain amount of money from state government and we can only fund to the cap. Some ideas I’ve had are to look at other things. Find some efficiencies, again, in the school systems. Do something like change out lighting. LED lighting takes a lot less power. It’s possibly something, it just needs to be looked into.