Brent Hibbert is running unopposed for the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly’s Kalifornsky seat, which he has held since 2017. Hibbert currently serves as the assembly president and has previously served as the chair of the assembly’s finance committee. Hibbert is also the owner and operator of Alaska Cab and The Brew coffee shop with his wife, Debra.
Hibbert said in a Sept. 29 interview with the Clarion that he views serving on the borough assembly as a way to give back to the community.
“I had some time,” Hibbert said. “The Kenai Peninsula has been very good to me and my family and I thought it was about time to start giving back a little bit.”
Hibbert said serving as assembly president has taken him out of his comfort zone, but that he thinks the current borough assembly is well-balanced and has worked to make the public process more accessible to borough residents. For example, he said, the borough introduced Zoom services during the pandemic, which allows anyone in the borough to participate in meetings without having to attend in person in Soldotna.
“We have about 50 people or so every night (tuning in to the) assembly on Zoom, and we’re starting to get more people participating in person also, which is all good,” Hibbert said.
If reelected to the assembly, Hibbert said his priorities would include the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s list of deferred maintenance projects, classification of borough land and mitigating the borough’s spruce bark beetle outbreak. Regarding school maintenance, Hibbert said that he doesn’t think the borough has to go to bond to fund the maintenance, but that the borough has put the issue off long enough.
“We’ve been kicking that can down the road for quite a few years and it’s really starting to show its head,” Hibbert said. “We’re needing to get to work on that.”
Of the borough’s spruce bark beetle outbreak, which has already affected more than 1 million acres of land since 2016 in Southcentral Alaska, Hibbert said the borough is looking to the federal government for financial assistance in the amount of $35 million.
“We see it every day driving down the roads and in our yards,” Hibbert said. “ … We have a lot of dead trees and the borough has a lot of land that’s got a whole bunch of dead trees on it.”
In reflecting on how the borough utilized federal funding received during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hibbert said he thinks the borough has done a “wonderful job” distributing relief money and that there isn’t anything he thinks the borough should have done differently. As the assembly continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hibbert said he encourages people to get vaccinated.
“Our hospital is being overwhelmed right now and there’s a lot of sick people in there,” Hibbert said.
Hibbert said he brings the perspective of being the owner of a business where he oversees about 50 employees, which he compared to managing the assembly as president. Ultimately, he said serving on the assembly is a practice in compromise.
“What I’ve learned on assembly is that nothing is cut and dry,” Hibbert said. “Everyone has an opinion and a lot of times compromise is the way to get things done.”
The municipal election is on Oct. 5.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at email@example.com.