Deborah Sounart stands in the Peninsula Clarion building on Sept. 10, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Deborah Sounart stands in the Peninsula Clarion building on Sept. 10, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Election 2021: Kenai City Council candidate Deborah Sounart

She said the skills needed to be a successful band director would translate to those needed to be an effective member of the city council.

Deborah Sounart is running for one of two vacancies on the Kenai City Council. She is a retired teacher with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, where she directed the concert bands and drumlines at Kenai Central High School and Kenai Middle School for 26 years, and previously worked for Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Florida.

Sounart said in a Sept. 10 interview at the Peninsula Clarion’s Kenai office that she thinks the skills needed to be a successful band director would translate to those necessary to be an effective member of the city council. For example, Sounart said she managed six bank accounts between the two schools.

“When … running a program, I’m dealing with personnel, which are students, I’m dealing with budgets and accounts, I’m dealing with uniform inventories, I’m dealing with instruments, I’m also dealing with music purchases and planning and programming concerts,” Sounart said.

Among the issues Sounart said she would want to address in her capacity as a council member are bluff erosion and the development of city-owned land. The city’s current strengths, she said, are its current financial standing and how it provides emergency services to residents.

“As a tax-paying resident, I don’t mind paying taxes for (the) police (and) I don’t mind paying taxes for firemen and emergency,” Sounart said. “I like knowing I have those services here in our home city and we’re not relying on waiting for somebody to have to drive from Central Emergency Services.”

Sounart said she’d like to see more community input reflected in how the city council makes decisions, and that she thinks she’d be able to bring that perspective to the council. She floated the idea of city distribution of annual literature outlining the city’s accomplishments and aspirations for the upcoming year and the launch of online surveys as a way to gather more community input.

“I would think the city would want our input, because if whatever they do is going to succeed, they have to get buy-in from us,” Sounart said. “How better to get buy-in from us than to ask for our ideas and opinions and get our input. That makes us part of the process, instead of just simply finding out down the road and being told this is now happening.”

Sounart said she appreciates that the city council has not implemented any community mandates, and that she supports “freedom of choice” as it relates to health care. Medical decisions, she said, should come from someone’s doctor, not the government.

“The people that have a different opinion, the people that don’t want to take the vaccine, the people that don’t want to wear the masks — I don’t think that they should be crucified for those choices,” Sounart said. “I think people need freedom of choice, and health care decisions need to be between an individual and their doctor, not something mandated by an elected government official.”

Ultimately, Sounart said her decision to run for city council is driven by a desire to “be local.”

“I want to live local. I want to eat local. I want to buy local — basically, I want to be local, because local action equates to national impact,” Sounart said. “That’s my philosophy.”

The municipal election is on Oct. 5.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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