Ruffridge picked to fill open Soldotna council seat

Ruffridge picked to fill open Soldotna council seat

Soldotna City Council welcomed Justin Ruffridge to the dais Wednesday night.

After the resignation of Keith Baxter in March, two candidates submitted applications for Seat F. At Wednesday night’s meeting the council interviewed Jordan Chilson and Ruffridge, before unanimously voting for Ruffridge to serve a partial term.

“I’d like to say thank you for voting me in today, I would ask for some good teachers on the council to help me and steer me in the right direction on some things. This is relatively new to me and I love to learn,” Ruffridge said.

Ruffridge, who works as a pharmacist in town, will hold the seat until the regular elections on Oct. 14. He has been serving on the city’s planning and zoning commission for about five months, but will have to step down from that role now that he is on the council.

The interviews covered Soldotna-centric topics like annexation and the city’s natural resources, including trails and the Kenai River.

“Annexation is a pressing issue moving forward and I think the views on that are varied,” Ruffridge said. “I think there is a lot of communication and consultation that need to be invovled in that. … I also think our downtown space is a priority for me. As someone who walks the city and takes my child to the parks, having an area that is concentrated and collected would be really, really important to look at moving forward. Lastly, I think our natural resources that we have here … we have been blessed with such a beautiful place to live and I think it is our responsibility as members of this community to protect it, and to enhance it in any way if we can.”

Ruffridge said he is looking forward to serving on the council.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity,” he said. “I believe it’s important for people to take responsibility in their community and I’m excited to take that responsibility. It’s going to be a learning experience, but it will be a good learning process.”

Seat F will be on the ballot again this October, as will Seat C according to Vice Mayor Linda Murphy.

“It’s really nice to see two young people wanting to sit on the council, and there will be this seat open in October because I don’t plan to run again,” Murphy said before the final votes were tallied. “Whoever doesn’t make it should seriously consider filing for this seat.”

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

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