Erick Hugarte will fill a vacancy on the Soldotna City Council following a vote in support of his appointment to the seat by the council during their Wednesday meeting.
Hugarte replaces Pamela Parker, who announced last month that she would be resigning from the council at the end of May. He has a GED from Kenai Peninsula College and has served on Soldotna’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and on the Planning and Zoning Commission.
In pursuing the council vacancy, Hugarte cited the impact the City of Soldotna had on him after he relocated from El Paso, Texas.
“I was never happy until I came up here,” Hugarte said. “When I came to Soldotna I found my happiness.”
Hugarte said he was unhappy and involved with gangs when he lived in El Paso and now wants to give back to the community where he found happiness.
“When I was younger, in my gang days, I created an ocean of evil,” Hugarte said. “I feel that I have to clear that ocean up by doing good.”
Hugarte has experience with Soldotna city government, but said the four months between now and October will give him the opportunity to learn how the council operates. Hugarte will serve the remainder of Parker’s term, or until this October, when he may run for a full three-year term during Soldotna’s municipal election.
Hugarte used his closing comments to thank the council for his appointment and to say he never thought he would be able to do something like serving on the council.
“Thank you for letting me work for you for these four months and I pray that I will do the best job that I can,” Hugarte said.
The council also interviewed Gloria Sweeney, a former teacher with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District who currently serves on Soldotna’s Library Advisory Board. Sweeney said that she “couldn’t really say at this moment” whether or not she would run for a full three-year term to the council in October.
The council cast their votes on who they thought should be appointed to the seat after both interviews were conducted. Hugarte received four votes, while Sweeney received one. An oath of office was administered to Hugarte and he took his seat during the meeting.
Both interviews can be viewed on Soldotna’s website at soldotna.org.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at email@example.com.