While four seats on the Soldotna City Council are up to be filled in the Oct. 4 regular municipal election, the candidates who filed for them will have a pretty easy race.
Current council members Tim Cashman and Regina Daniels, former council member Lisa Parker and newcomer Tyson Cox are all running unopposed. Cashman and Daniels are essentially switching seats, with Daniels running for his one-year seat F and Cashman running for her current seat D, a three-year term.
Cox is the only candidate completely new to the council. A Soldotna High School graduate and an investor and manager of rental properties in the area, Cox said he has always liked being involved in the community and had been considering joining the council for a number of years. Giving back and being part of the public process is something Cox said he feels most people should do.
“I think it’s everyone’s duty to do this at some point,” he said.
Cox said both the home-rule charter facing voters in the October election and the possibility of annexation will be tough for residents to look at. There are plenty of pros and cons on both sides of both issues, he said.
The most important part of tackling contested topics like home rule or annexation as a council member is listening to the residents, Cox said. While there are many people inside and outside of the areas identified for annexation, for example, Cox said it’s important to listen closely to those whom it would directly affect.
A seat with a one-year term was attractive to Cox because it will give him the chance to get familiarized with the process and re-evaluate his place on the council sooner rather than later.
“I want to make sure that I can do what I say that I’m going to do,” he said.
Parker will return to the council for a three-year term after some time away; she previously served from 2002–2007. A drive to contribute to the city’s workings was a motivator for Parker as well, she said.
“I strongly believe in giving back to my community and participating in the process,” she said.
Parker too is looking forward to tackling annexation and home rule. She previously served on a charter commission in Anchorage, and the process is “exciting to see,” she said.
Parker’s views on annexation, which has come up for conversation periodically over the years, have not changed since she first served on the council, she said. Parker said she would not support annexing an area into the city if the majority of people living there were not in favor of it.
“As people will tell you, I am a person who likes to collaborate and figure out ways to work out issues,” she said.
Daniels had originally planned not to run again this year, so when she decided to make another go of it, she chose the shorter term.
Continuity on the council is important to Daniels, who has served since 2010. Having a lot of turnover on the council could mean spending more time catching people up on current important issues, she said.
“Right now I think it’s good to have people that are aware of what’s going on and are up to speed,” she said.
Besides the home-rule charter and the city’s look into annexation, Daniels said it will be important to keep an eye on what is happening with the marijuana industry as well as the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex, which she said is rife for updates as the lack of indoor turf on the Kenai Peninsula is felt from Nikiski to Homer.
“The moratorium on marijuana was just a two-year moratorium, and it’s something that’s going to have to be revisited,” she said, explaining that it will be important to consider what the Marijuana Control Board had put in place along with where the city wants to go with it in a town of only about seven square miles.
Cashman too looks forward to lengthening his time on the council, moving forward to a three-year term.
“We have a lot of pretty big issues I think coming up in the city of Soldotna,” he said.
Cashman, who also serves on the city’s charter commission, said he’s looking forward to seeing the issue of home rule through.
Making residents aware of what home rule means, how the city can use it to move forward and the upcoming vote itself are all things he said he are important to him.
Helping the city through future budgeting processes that focus on community priorities is something else Cashman looks forward to as well, he said.
Cashman and Daniels touched on the importance of the city’s mill rate. While Soldotna may not be feeling the effects of the state’s financial situation quite yet, reevaluating the mill rate annually compared to where the city’s finances are will be a way to deal with falling state funding, Daniels said.
Reach Megan Pacer at firstname.lastname@example.org.