Alex Douthit is running for one of two vacancies on the Kenai City Council. He has owned and operated Kenai Peninsula Driving Instruction since 2017 and currently serves on the Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission. He is a graduate of Kenai Central High School and Kenai Peninsula College and has also served on the Cook Inlet Salmon Advisory Task Force.
Douthit said in a Sept. 9 interview at the Peninsula Clarion’s Kenai office that he’s running for a seat on the Kenai City Council because he wants to be involved with the community as much as possible. He said he applied for a vacant council seat last year, but that he ended up on the Planning and Zoning Commission instead.
“(My family is) heavily invested in the city and I want to see it continue to grow and prosper and grow in a positive direction,” Douthit said.
If elected, Douthit said one of the issues he’d like to address is use of city-owned land. The City of Kenai owns 369 subdivided parcels of land, many of which the city has deemed “suitable” for various types of development. The size of Kenai, generally, is an advantage Kenai has over Soldotna.
“There’s a lot of lands that I think are underutilized in the city and being able to market that and find out what we can do with it, to be able to cause the city to grow — there’s a lot of possibilities in the city,” Douthit said.
That, Douthit said, is in addition to his support for city efforts to revitalize the waterfront from Millennium Square to the city dock, and his desire to explore ways the city could diversify the economy. For example, he floated the idea of Kenai ecotourism that would allow the city to capitalize on some of Kenai’s lesser-known attractions like birdwatching.
“We have a ton of land and opportunity for growth and I’d really like to see that developed into something,” Douthit said. “It’s been kind of stagnant for a long time and I really think we need to start developing and pushing towards developing the city in a positive aspect.”
Something Douthit said is going really well with city operations is city administration, praising the work of Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander and Kenai Finance Director Terry Eubank in creating a “lean” budget. Among the things he thinks could be improved is how Kenai incentivizes long-term employment with the city, particularly in the police department.
Douthit said the city should try to use some of the funding it received through the federal American Rescue Plan Act to help connect workers to employment opportunities in the city. That could include expanding access to child care in the city for residents who are unable to work because they cannot afford child care.
“That not only helps (families) out, it might help out the daycare businesses in the community,” Douthit said. “Then they become a worker, which then brings in money for both their household and their employer’s household. Different programs like that, I think would be great.”
Ultimately, Douthit said he thinks he could bring a younger perspective to the council and that his priority would be bettering the city.
“I’m here for the long haul,” Douthit said. “I’m focusing on the City of Kenai and that’s all my ambitions are, is to focus in on the City of Kenai and do what’s best for it.”
The municipal election is on Oct. 5.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org.