Victoria Askin is running for one of two vacancies on the Kenai City Council. Askin currently serves on the council, to which she was appointed in December of 2020, and works as an I&E technician for Hilcorp Alaska, LLC. She previously served on the Kenai Harbor Commission and on the Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission. She also served on the Kenai Peninsula Local Emergency Planning Committee for 12 years.
Askin said in a Sept. 16 interview at the Peninsula Clarion’s Kenai office that she has always been interested in government, but that she didn’t feel she had the time to devote to public service until after her children had grown up and moved away.
Though Askin was appointed to both the Kenai Harbor Commission and to the Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission, Askin said she was “surprised” when she was appointed to the city council last year.
“I thought that was quite an honor,” Askin said. “I didn’t expect that. There were two former council members that were trying and there were a couple others that were very charismatic that I figured would probably (be appointed). I was surprised, I didn’t think I would get on, but I did and I really enjoy it.”
Askin described serving on the council, as compared to her previous positions with the city, as “more visual” because city council approval is the last step in the process for many city operations. For her, serving on the council is a way to give back to the community and encourage civic engagement, she said.
“I just always have strongly felt that as a citizen, we have to be engaged,” Askin said. “We can’t sit back and complain. We have to be engaged if we’re going to affect a change or make something better.”
Something Askin said sets her apart from the other candidates running for council is the fact that she currently sits on the council. She said during a candidate forum at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce last week that it will allow her to hit the ground running if elected. One of the biggest learning curves for her, she said, was the city’s budget process.
“Numbers and I aren’t best friends, and so it’s amazing to me,” she said. “It was almost overwhelming at the very beginning to see all the different accounts that we have, the state that the city is in and where we get grants from.”
Kenai’s finances, Askin said, are one of the city’s greatest strengths currently. On the flip side, Askin said she’d like to see the elimination of credit card fees associated with paying city utilities and continues to be concerned about how the city handles homeless people.
“Fiscally, we’re in amazing shape,” Askin said. “The city is very solid — much more solid, I think, than a lot of cities even in Alaska.”
Though Askin said she supports personal choice as it relates to the wearing of masks and vaccinations to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, she is willing to work toward compromise. That compromise, she said, begins with people respecting one another’s opinions, even in a disagreement. A willingness to work toward agreement and be “fair,” she said, is one of her strengths as a council member.
“There’s always a piece of common ground you can start from,” Askin said.
The municipal election is on Oct. 5.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org.