Soldotna mayor breaks tie, fails measure to give mayor a vote

The Soldotna City Council voted down a proposed ballot measure Wednesday that would include the mayor as part of the council, allowing him a vote, but revoking his veto power.

The vote was 3-3 with Mayor Nels Anderson breaking the tie with a vote to fail an ordinance that would have given him a vote and revoke his veto power.

The mayor’s role, which is the elected, ceremonial head of government, will remain the same by presiding over the city council meetings with limited veto power and no vote, except in the case of a tie.

Before the vote, Anderson said he didn’t have strong feelings about the ordinance one way or another.

“I can go either way,” Anderson said. “I see no problems with it at all. I have no opposition in giving this to the voters.”

Linda Murphy, vice mayor, first proposed the ordinance. The change would have made the mayor’s responsibilities similar to that of Kenai and Seward’s mayors. In 2016, Soldotna revised its charter to become a home-rule city, the same status as Kenai and Seward. She said the ordinance would enhance the powers of the mayor.

“I don’t see that it would affect the relationship between the council,” Murphy said at the meeting. “The mayor should have all the same powers and duties that we have. It would strengthen us, not weaken us.”

Council member Tim Cashman voted against the ordinance and said he didn’t see why the change was necessary.

“We’re trying to fix something that hasn’t been an issue,” Cashman said. “What we have works really well and has worked for a long time. One thing I think is good is we have a very strong administration and I would be worried about mayoral dynamics that could upset that. I don’t know what that would be… I worry about it upsetting the balance and I don’t know that it would.”

Councilmember Lisa Parker also voted down the ballot measure.

“I think the voters are going to come to the polls in October, and this isn’t going to be a clear issue for them,” Parker said.

Reach Victoria Petersen at vpetersen@peninsulaclarion.com.

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