Cindy Ecklund is running against Kenn Carpenter for the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly’s east peninsula seat. Ecklund is a retired teacher with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and currently serves on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Planning Commission and on the Seward Planning and Zoning Commission.
Ecklund said during an Oct. 1 interview with the Clarion that she decided to run for the assembly’s east peninsula seat after being encouraged by community members. Ecklund said she’d bring an extensive background in municipal governance, as she previously worked as an assistant city clerk, a human resources officer and as an executive assistant to the city manager — all in Seward. That’s in addition to municipal government positions Ecklund held while living in Florida.
“I just decided that I’d honor my community members’ request and run for assembly,” Ecklund said. “(People) from Hope, Cooper Landing (and) Seward were all asking for me to put my hat in the ring, so I did.”
Ecklund said that, if elected to the assembly, she would prioritize education, solid waste management and roads. She said she was a founding member of Sustainable Seward, a grassroots organization with a stated goal of raising awareness about and implementing solutions to waste reduction and recycling. One of Ecklund’s goals is to lengthen the life of borough landfills.
“It’s important that that landfill lasts and I think to make it last, we have to get better at what we put in it or not put in (it),” Ecklund said.
About $6 million of the $11.4 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds received by the Kenai Peninsula Borough were used to repair a leachate tank at the Central Peninsula Landfill. Ecklund thinks some of those funds could have been used for incentives for substitute teachers in KPBSD, which is experiencing a shortage of substitutes.
“The borough is involved in education and I mean no one can say that we don’t want to invest in our future (and) in the future of our residents,” Ecklund said.
That investment includes funding the school district’s deferred maintenance projects, which Ecklund said she would support putting out to bond if funding cannot be secured from the state.
In reflecting on how the borough has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ecklund has mixed feelings. She said she did not support recent legislation mulled by the borough assembly that would have opposed “vaccine segregation.” She does support the use of Zoom to expand access to borough assembly meetings for people across the peninsula. As a second-class borough, the Kenai Peninsula Borough does not have health or policing powers, meaning the assembly does not have the authority to impose COVID mandates, including mask mandates.
Ultimately, Ecklund said that she’d be bringing the perspective of a former municipal employee and of a retired teacher to the assembly, which sets her apart from other members, and that hearing from members of the public is important to her.
“I’m a pretty straightforward person. I don’t hold a lot back (and) I’m pretty transparent,” Ecklund said. “I would want everybody to touch base with me when they have comments concerns.”
The municipal election is on Oct. 5.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org.