The Soldotna City Council voted Wednesday to appoint Chera Wackler to the council seat vacated by Justin Ruffridge, who was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives in November.
In all, four people threw their hat in the ring for consideration for the term, which runs through October. All candidates were asked by city council members whether or not they had reviewed the city’s most recent financial reports, whether they would seek election to the seat for a full term and what they view as Soldotna’s greatest attributes and challenges.
Wackler said she sees Soldotna’s small footprint as one of the city’s greatest challenges and that finding a way to balance serving residents and the surrounding community will be a priority.
“We do service a much larger area than what the city boundaries actually are,” Wackler said. “Figuring out the practical application of making those services happen without annexation, I think, is probably going to be the one of the most difficult aspects to kind of reconcile.”
The council ultimately voted 3-2 in favor of Wackler, with applicant Julie Kincaid receiving the other two votes. Wackler was sworn in at the beginning of the meeting and immediately took her seat on the council. Other applicants for the seat included Larry Opperman and Donica Nash.
Wackler has served as the clinic director of Phormation Chiropractic since 2007 and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and applied visual arts.
She is a member of 100+ Women who Care, a group that makes annual donations to community causes, and most recently founded the Peninsula Period Network, which aims to end period poverty by making menstrual products available for free in Kenai Peninsula Borough School District schools.
The Peninsula Period Network was the most recent recipient of contributions from 100+ Women who Care and also received in August a $1,000 mini grant from the City of Soldotna.
In her first act as a council member, Wackler cast the deciding vote on whether or not the city should limit the use of accessory dwelling units in city limits. She ultimately voted against the proposed changes, defeating the legislation.
“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to sit here for the next few months and learn a lot,” Wackler said. “I know I have a big task ahead of me learning how all this works in actuality and I look forward to it.”
The council’s full Wednesday night meeting can be streamed on the city’s website at soldotna.org.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at email@example.com.