Tim Navarre’s record of public service on the Kenai City Council goes back long before he was first elected in 2011.
In his senior year of high school in 1972, Navarre served as the student representative, a position then called junior city councilman. At the time, city hall was in Old Town Kenai on Peninsula Avenue in the Civic League building next to the old Kenai Police and Fire Department, which was housed in the Kenai Fine Arts Center.
Navarre said the biggest issue facing the city in 1972 was having enough places and activity centers for kids.
“They really wanted to hear from young people and make sure they had a voice,” he said. “It’s a perspective you can’t ignore. If you do you’re not being very open.”
More than 40 years later, Navarre, 59, is running for re-election for one of two available at-large seats. The other candidates include incumbent Mike Boyle, Henry Knackstedt and Holly Spann.
Navarre said his parents always instilled the importance of public service since the Navarre family moved to Kenai in 1957. His father George Navarre served as Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor from 1966-1972 and was later Kenai city manager.
Tim Navarre was first elected to public office in 1993 as an assemblyman for Kenai Peninsula Borough where he served nine years. He also was the chief of staff for borough mayor John Williams for three years.
Most recently Navarre is currently in his second term on the Kenai Peninsula Borough School Board, which meets in the building named after his father.
Navarre said he is running for re-election on city council because he would like to see the bluff erosion project come to completion.
“It has been 20 years and finally we are at a stage where we can see progress,” he said.
Navarre first took steps to address bluff erosion issues as a member of the borough assembly in the 1990s. He traveled to Washington, D.C., to talk with then U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and got the process started to receive state and federal funding for Environmental Impact Studies.
Earlier this year, Navarre traveled to the nation’s capital with Kenai City Manager Rick Koch and met with Congressional delegates and representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers to petition for federal funding for the final feasibility study. In May, the city received three grants from the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development totaling $4 million for the bluff stabilization project.
Navarre said thanks to the foresight from borough and city administration, the city is closer than ever to stabilizing the Kenai River bluff.
“We have seen the bluff eroding in 20 years, which has impacted roads and has already captured one city street where water and sewer need to be relocated,” Navarre said. “Everybody working hard all these years should be thanked. It would be a shame for them to not be rewarded for all their hard work.”
Before Navarre first ran for city council, he served one year on the Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission. Navarre is the planning and zoning commission council liaison. He said it is vital for the city to be proactive in planning and work with its neighbors to the north and south to prepare for the boom expected to hit the area.
After the Comprehensive Plan referendum failed last October, Navarre said the community had expressed concerns about protecting neighborhoods from commercial development. The commission would need to get back to work and update the plan to meet the citizen’s needs, he said.
At the same time the city wants to improve areas and put in paved streets, water and sewer, he said. The city will continue to develop a planning document to find the best area for a business district based on how land is currently used with zoning codes, he said.
“We need a document so the city and staff know what we are working toward,” Navarre said. “A lot of things come back to council and need to be voted on. Whether we vote up or down and make modifications that’s how change happens and the community will be involved the whole way.”
Another priority for Kenai residents is expanding services for senior citizens, the fastest growing segment of the population, Navarre said. The city has taken steps provide more walking areas by constructing sidewalks in Old Town and adding benches, donated by community sponsors, to allow more user-friendly areas for people young and old to stop and enjoy the scenery, he said.
“Our community values its seniors and they give back to the community a number of different ways,” he said.
Navarre said veterans make up a large portion of the Kenai population and he felt it was important for the city to take a stand and show support for the veteran’s memorial in Leif Hansen Memorial Park, despite the threat of a lawsuit to the city for cross symbol on the memorial.
“Somebody will always be offended by something,” he said. “To me it is more about the community and what it stands for and it gets misinterpreted if you try to draw a line with a price. You have to stand up for veterans. There is no gray area in my mind.”
Navarre said a good council is made up of a good mixture of people in the community so everyone has a voice. He said he brings knowledge of the where the city has been and the people that have made it what it is today.
“It’s been a pleasure to serve my community in a number of different ways,” he said. “I will continue to be a positive part of the community and build on strengths. I don’t waste time on negatives, but will work to move the city forward.”
Reach Dan Balmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.