What Kenai resident Holly Spann may lack in political experience, she says she makes up in passion for in community involvement.
Spann, 30, a mother of four, also brings a unique perspective lacking on the Kenai City Council. She is looking to become the first female Kenai city council member since Linda Swarner last served six years ago.
“I’ve had a desire in politics and get more involved in community for a while,” Spann said. “I absolutely love people and believe in giving back. I figured why not run now and see this as my opportunity to do so.”
Spann has served on the Kenai Beautification Committee for two years and was recently named vice-chair. She said she thoroughly enjoys her role in landscaping and planting flowers throughout the city.
Spann helped plant the field of wildflowers on Lawton Drive that have received a lot of praise from locals and visitors to the city. The committee also works to decorate the city with Christmas lights in December and flags for Independence Day in July.
“It is great to see the things we do and the ideas we have put into action and see how beautiful our city is,” Spann said. “Mayor (Pat) Porter has great ideas and vision on how to beautify the city.”
Spann is running for one of two vacant city council seats, along with incumbents Mike Boyle and Tim Navarre, and candidate Henry Knackstedt. Election day is October 7. Spann said she respects the experience her three challengers bring to the position, but thinks the council could use more female representation.
“It can’t hurt to have a fresher, younger generation getting involved,” she said.
In addition to being a mother and serving on a committee, Spann works full time at Carquest in Kenai. She has volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club, participated in breast cancer awareness events and is a committee member with Boy Scouts of America.
Spann moved to Alaska in 1989 from Longview, Washington. She is married to David Spann and has two boys, Jessiah James, 11, and Cameron Tuttle, 8, and two girls, Arihanna Tuttle, 6, and Lillian Tuttle, 3. When she is not working she said she loves to take her kids to Municipal Park and play on the beach.
One thing that could use improvement in Kenai is upgrades to the city parks, she said. The city’s plan to develop new playgrounds in Municipal Park with an Enchanted Forest theme next year has her excited, she said.
“Having a family I really want to see our city grow and increase family activities,” she said. “Education is an important priority (for her kids) to give them an opportunity to grow.”
With the potential growth expected with talk of the new LNG Alaska Gas Pipeline Project in Nikiski, Spann said the city of Kenai has a chance to capitalize on the economic developments more jobs and people could bring.
Spann said in the future she would like to see a small business district with more retail and restaurants that would encourage people to shop locally. She has a goal to open a small business that sells vintage antique items.
One trait that makes a good council member is someone who is involved in many aspects of the city and talks to people in the community, she said.
“I feel strongly that council members should take time to attend other meetings to get an idea of what’s going on,” Spann said. “I attend as many meetings as I can. It helps give me a huge understanding of what’s going on in different departments and committees.”
While campaigning for city council, Spann said she has met a lot of interesting citizens who are passionate about what issues matter to them.
The biggest issue currently facing the city is the bluff erosion project, which has been a hot topic since before she arrived in Kenai. She said she has done some research and talked to people and believes the city is moving in the right direction.
Spann said she believes the city has done a good job managing the personal-use fishery the last few years and the council has made a concerted effort to listen to the citizen’s complaints on certain issues. She said adjustments will still need to be made with user fees and beach access but is confident the city is taking the necessary steps.
On the issue of the veteran’s memorial in Leif Hansen Park, Spann said she is passionate about the memorial staying as it is. She said she is glad the city has taken the stance to support the veterans. She said it would be a bigger issue if the memorial were removed.
“I 100 percent support there being a cross on the memorial,” she said. “A cross represents different things to everyone. I love that the city is sticking to their guns.”
While she understands hard decisions are part of being an elected official she said it’s important to gather as much information possible to make the best-informed decision.
“You can’t make everyone happy,” she said. “Until I face those decisions it’s hard to answer. Running for city council is not about me. It’s about the residents. It’s not what I think, but what everyone else thinks.”
Reach Dan Balmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.