Soldotna City Council members on Wednesday expressed their appreciation and best wishes for outgoing council member Justin Ruffridge, who was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives last month.
Wednesday’s meeting, during which council members voted to accept his letter of resignation, was Ruffridge’s last as a council member since joining the council in 2018. In an upset, he clinched more votes in his bid for a seat in the Alaska House than incumbent Ron Gillham, a fellow Republican.
Soldotna Mayor Paul Whitney read during the council meeting a commending resolution sponsored by council members for Ruffridge. The legislation, among other things, cited Ruffridge’s work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to help provide residents with vaccines and his past work on the Planning and Zoning Commission and with the Kenai Performers.
“The Soldotna City Council commends Mr. Ruffridge on helping to shape our community and congratulates him on his election to the House of Representatives,” the resolution passed by council members says.
Soldotna Vice Mayor Lisa Parker thanked Ruffridge for his work on the council and said she’s looking forward to working with him while he’s in Juneau.
“It’s been a pleasure, council member Ruffridge — Representative-elect Ruffridge — to serve with you on the city council and I look forward to working with you in the years ahead as you represent not only our community, but the State of Alaska,” Parker said. “Thank you for your dedication and commitment.”
Council member Dave Carey joked that he told Ruffridge not to go to Juneau.
“I told him not to do it, but it’s only because the people down in Juneau are going to get his great wisdom and diligence and we’re going to lose it to some extent,” Carey said.
Ruffridge thanked council members for their support during his closing comments at Wednesday’s meeting.
“I feel like we are an example of support and kindness and civil discourse and I really appreciate the kindness that you guys have shown to me this evening and throughout the last few years,” Ruffridge said. “I have felt this has been an excellent experience and a good education in how the public process works.”
In addition to accepting Ruffridge’s resignation, council members also declared his seat on the council vacant. That declaration will allow the Soldotna City Clerk to begin advertising for the vacancy, which will be filled by a council appointment. Council members have until Jan. 11 to appoint a qualified person to fill the vacancy, according to a memo from City Clerk Johni Blankenship.
Per that memo, notices of the vacancy will be posted and published on Friday and Saturday. Applications will be accepted from Dec. 19 at 8 a.m. through Jan. 3 at 2 p.m. Per Soldotna Municipal Code, those interested in serving on the council must have been a resident of Soldotna for at least one year, be a citizen of the United States and be a qualified voter of the city.
Wednesday’s city council meeting can be streamed on the city’s website at soldotna.org.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org.