Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings is running for Seat A on the Soldotna City Council. She currently holds the seat, to which she was appointed in December of 2020, and will run unopposed for reelection. Farnsworth-Hutchings has previously served on the Soldotna Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and the State of Alaska Workers Compensation Board and currently works as an accountant for Hutchings Auto Group.
Farnsworth-Hutchings is a lifelong resident of Soldotna and the daughter of homesteaders, whose property stretched from the Soldotna Auto Spa to where Soldotna City Hall is. Her family were similarly civic-minded with service on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, on the school board, as city mayor and the hospital board. Farnsworth-Hutchings she’s seen the community sprout from pre-statehood conversations around a dinner table to the community it is today.
“Being appointed to the city council, it just seems like now I get to actually have a better idea and more of an input,” Farnsworth-Hutchings said in an interview with the Clarion on Sept. 2. “I still listen to every assembly meeting every Tuesday that it’s on and I do go to a lot of the school board meetings … and so this just seemed like a natural progression.”
Among the things Farnsworth-Hutchings said she thinks are currently operating well at the city are candid conversations and a “great” staff. She said those conversations play out especially well among council members during meetings.
“There is open dialogue all the time,” Farsnworth-Hutchings said. “I do not see anybody feeling like they can’t speak to other (council members). You have the rules where you can only speak to one other council person about a certain thing, but I think our discussions during our city council meetings are very open, they’re very respectful and they’re very insightful.”
In reflecting on the time during which she’s served on the city council, Farnsworth-Hutchings said something she’s most proud of is how the City of Soldotna distributed federal COVID-19 CARES Act dollars to the community. The City of Soldotna received nearly $10 million in CARES Act funds, and recently received another round of funding through the American Rescue Plan Act.
More broadly, Farnsworth-Hutchings said the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is “ongoing.” While everyone wishes things were back to the way they were, she said, “they’re not.” She also said she’s had five friends die from COVID in the last two months.
“I feel sad for their families,” Farnsworth-Hutchings said. “You can’t convince somebody to do something that they don’t want to. All we can do is give support to those that are left behind. I will adhere to the mask relationship because it’s just respectful.”
The City of Soldotna has required face coverings in city buildings off and on throughout the pandemic. Most recently, the council approved masking requirements for people in indoor-settings of city-owned buildings, including City Hall, the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex and the Soldotna Public Library.
Ultimately, Farnsworth-Hutchings said she wants to see the community work together for the betterment of the city, which she said is her first priority as a council member.
“We have accomplished so much, and I feel like we have done it not on the backs of anybody, but as a collaborative group of people that wanted what was best for everyone,” Farnsworth-Hutchings said. “I want to see that continue. It’s not ‘them’ and ‘us.’ It’s ‘we,’ (and) I think that’s really important.”
The municipal election is on Oct. 5.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at email@example.com.