Jordan Chilson is running against Micah Shields for Seat C on the Soldotna City Council. He currently sits on the council, to which he was elected in 2018, and works as a programmer and analyst for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. Chilson has also previously served on the Soldotna Planning and Zoning Commission and on the Soldotna Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.
Chilson said during an interview with the Clarion on Sept. 9 that he first ran for council to oppose the construction of a new visitor center in Soldotna Creek Park. Preservation and expansion of greenspace in Soldotna is one of his top priorities, and he has his eye on further developing the city’s riverfront areas.
“We would love to see more trails that connect Soldotna Creek Park to the bridge with more riverfront businesses,” Chilson said. “It would be a really nice walkable district with greenspace (and) businesses. That could really be kind of the economic hub for the center of Soldotna.
In reflecting on his role in the council, Chilson said he sees his strengths as using his network engineering background to approach issues analytically, being able to build on his experience working with Soldotna’s nonprofit organizations and contributing perspective as someone younger than many of the other people currently serving on the council.
“My strengths are in analyzing all the facts, taking that data, and then trying to figure out what is objectively the best path forward,” Chilson said. “I think that’s one of the main strengths that I bring to the table.”
Chilson said he’s “extremely proud” of how the City of Soldotna has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly as it relates to the distribution of federal CARES Act funds. Soldotna received about $10 million through the CARES Act, about 46% of which went to grants for businesses and economic recovery.
“I … really appreciate the creativity that our city staff had in formulating ways to actually utilize that money that we were putting out the door,” Chilson said. “We came out with a lot of cool programs.”
Looking ahead, Chilson said he’d like to see some of the city’s funds received through the American Rescue Plan Act put toward addressing city housing. Though one of Soldotna’s strengths is its commercial district, he said, a lack of residential space and room to grow existing spaces is challenging.
Chilson emphasized to voters preparing to make a choice between him and his opponent that city council races are nonpartisan and that he is not a partisan politician.
“One of the frustrating things I’ve seen with local elections is (that) people are very tribalistic and they’ll ask you, ‘Are you a Republican or are you a Democrat?’” Chilson said. “It doesn’t really matter. We’re a local city council; we do things that are generally not supposed to be partisan in nature and are just in the best interest of the city.”
Chilson reiterated his commitment to the development of the city’s greenspace, which he said is his mission at the moment.
“I think Soldotna is a beautiful city,” Chilson said. “I love all the greenery we have here with our parks and greenery on the rights-of-ways and trails and I want to see that protected and expanded. … I want us to be a walkable and rideable city.”
The municipal election is on Oct. 5.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org.