Soldotna has added a new seat to city council, elected by a body that includes underage voters.
Soldotna High School sophomore Jackson Blackwell has filled the position of Soldotna student representative. It is the first time the council has had a student seat in more than seven years.
“The last set of council minutes I have showing a student representative for city council is July 25, 2007,” Deputy City Clerk Heather Dukowitz said.
City Clerk Shellie Saner swore in Blackwell at the Wednesday city council meeting. He said he was very excited to have the opportunity to serve the city.
Blackwell said he was looking forward to learning how city policy is developed and implemented through the council, and being able to speak as a voice for his peers at the same time. He also said he is hoping to be a part of the way the city changes for the better.
“I would like to learn more about how policies are made and how I can be a vital part of our community,” Blackwell said. “I can’t think of a better to way serve my community and to learn about municipal government than by serving on the city council. I would like to have more influence over how our local polices are developed.”
During council comments each member welcomed Blackwell and many thanked him for his participation.
“Please be sure to express your opinions when the time comes,” council member Pete Sprague said. “It’s pretty important to speak up and you’re taking the first step.”
Blackwell said council member Meggean Bos, a teacher at Soldotna High School, has already offered him some good advice. At the meeting Bos said having a student representative is a great addition to the council because it includes a different perspective in the local discussion.
Blackwell said he was very thankful the council was so welcoming.
He said in particular he is looking forward to the upcoming discussion on the renovations and expansions to the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.
Blackwell is currently on the student council as the sophomore class vice president. He was born in Sitka and has been a Soldotna resident for the last 13 years.
Student representative policy in Soldotna dictates the representative must be in good academic standing at Soldotna High School, be elected by the student council and obtain the approval of the Soldotna High School administration. The representative may not move or second items during a council meeting and may only cast advisory votes on all matters except those subject to executive session discussions.
“Mr. Jackson, I am honored that you consider public service, everyone up here is in that mode,” Mayor Nels Anderson said. “I’ve got to tell you I am honored to serve with these fine people. I think if you listen to them an learn you will gain a great insight into a lot of particular issues of the city, and I hope you will continue public service the rest of your life, I hope. ”
Blackwell’s term expires September 30, 2015. He will serve at all regular council meetings while school is in session according to the policy.
Blackwell was asked to give his first report during the council reports at the end of Wednesday’s meeting.
“I don’t really have much to report on yet, but I am excited for this opportunity,” Blackwell said.
Kelly Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.