Uncertainties surround Soldotna’s home rule vote

  • Thursday, January 29, 2015 10:40pm
  • News

On Tuesday, February 3, the city of Soldotna will hold a special election that could have a major impact on the city. But whether residents know what they are voting on, or are even aware of an election remains to be seen. Soldotna City Council members discussed voter education on Wednesday.

On Tuesday’s ballot, the question posed will read:

“Shall a charter commission be elected to prepare a proposed charter?”

If approved, members of the commission would also be elected.

A charter commission is a group of seven elected officials given the task of writing an official list of powers and duties of the city. If a charter commission is elected, they will then have one year to draw up the charter, and the public will then vote on it. If the voters reject the charter, Soldotna will remain a first class city, and many of the city’s powers will be determined by the borough or state. Should the charter pass, Soldotna would become home rule, giving the city more autonomy.

“(Home rule) just means that the city council and people who live in the city can make decisions that affect the city,” said council member Linda Murphy. “Those decisions will not be made by people living outside of the city limits. We get to choose our own destiny. That is what happens when you’re home rule.”

On Tuesday, the public will not be voting on whether Soldotna will be a home rule city; rather, whether a committee should form to make up a potential charter that would later be voted on.

Despite the importance of the election, some Soldotna citizens fear that the city’s population is insufficiently educated about what is being voted on. At the city council meeting on Wednesday, some, including Fred Sturman, were critical of how the city has prepared for the election.

“I think the city has done a pretty poor job of advertising,” Sturman said. “I’ve probably talked to at least 250 people, and I bet you 30 people know we’re going to have an election on the Feb. 3. That’s pretty poor.”

City council member Keith Baxter said he hopes 1,000 people will turn out on election day. He said the city council appropriated $5,000 to educate the public, which was used for advertisements on the radio and in newspapers.

Sturman said the money used to notify the public about the election wasn’t used efficiently.

“(The city of Soldotna) has had four months or five months and have spent $5,000 at least or more for what’s supposed to be education, and nobody knows nothing about it,” Sturman said.

Speaking to the city council, peninsula resident Daniel Lynch said he was upset that more advertisement wasn’t done months prior to the upcoming election.

City council member Linda Murphy agreed that not enough was done to educate the public.

She said most people are aware of general elections, but when it comes to a special election in winter, the city council could have done more.

“Maybe we should have gone a step further,” Murphy said. “We did everything we were required to do and a little more – we appropriated money to have some additional ads in the paper and radio spots – but people aren’t expecting an election in February.”

Murphy said that in hindsight, the city council should have spent money sending out mailers informing the public.

“It would have cost a little money, but I think that’s the price of democracy,” Murphy said.

City council member Meggean Bos said that the city should look into using new forms of media to educate the public. She said that she felt the information about what exactly is being voted on is not cut and dry.

“I feel like we, as a city, need to get with the times for people who use technology,” Bos said.

Council member Regina Daniels disagreed that the city hasn’t done enough.

“It’s hard to engage people in this community to really pay attention and I think we’ve put information out there,” Daniels said.

Voting will be held at Soldotna City Hall from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day.


Reach Ian Foley at Ian.foley@peninsulaclarion.com

More in News

Alaska State Troopers logo.
State Trooper convicted of attempted sexual abuse of a minor

Vance Peronto, formerly an Alaska State Trooper based in Soldotna, was convicted… Continue reading

Soldotna City Hall is seen on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna moves ahead with staff recruitment strategies

Soldotna City Council members last week gave city administration a thumbs up… Continue reading

State representatives Tom McKay, R-Anchorage, and Andi Story, D-Juneau, offering competing amendments to a bill increasing the per-student funding formula for public schools by $1,250 during a House Education Committee meeting Wednesday morning. McKay’s proposal to lower the increase to $150 was defeated. Story’s proposal to implement an increase during the next two years was approved, after her proposed amounts totalling about $1,500 were reduced to $800.
Borough, Soldotna call on Legislature to increase school funding

The City of Soldotna last week became the latest entity to call… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears goalie Nils Wallstrom celebrates winning a shootout over the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Saturday, March 25, 2023, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears sweep Ice Dogs, move into 3rd place

The Kenai River Brown Bears earned a two-game sweep over the Fairbanks… Continue reading

The waters of Cook Inlet lap against Nikishka Beach in Nikiski, Alaska, where several local fish sites are located, on Friday, March 24, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Unprecedented closures threaten setnet way of life

Setnetters have been vocal about their opposition to the way their fishery is managed

Legislative fiscal analysts Alexei Painter, right, and Conor Bell explain the state’s financial outlook during the next decade to the Senate Finance Committee on Friday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Legislators eye oil and sales taxes due to fiscal woes

Bills to collect more from North Slope producers, enact new sales taxes get hearings next week.

Expert skateboarder Di’Orr Greenwood, an artist born and raised in the Navajo Nation in Arizona and whose work is featured on the new U.S. stamps, rides her skateboard next to her artworks in the Venice Beach neighborhood in Los Angeles Monday, March 20, 2023. On Friday, March 24, the U.S. Postal Service is debuting the “Art of the Skateboard,” four stamps that will be the first to pay tribute to skateboarding. The stamps underscore how prevalent skateboarding has become, especially in Indian Country, where the demand for designated skate spots has only grown in recent years. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Indigenous artists help skateboarding earn stamp of approval

The postal agency ceremoniously unveiled the “Art of the Skateboard” stamps in a Phoenix skate park

Bruce Jaffa, of Jaffa Construction, speaks to a group of students at Seward High School’s Career Day on Thursday, March 23, 2023, at Seward High School in Seward, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward students talk careers at fair

More than 50 businesses were represented

Alaska state Sen. Bert Stedman, center, a co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, listens to a presentation on the major North Slope oil project known as the Willow project on Thursday, March 23, 2023, in Juneau, Alaska. The committee heard an update on the project from the state Department of Natural Resources and the state Department of Revenue. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)
Official: Willow oil project holds promise, faces obstacles

State tax officials on Thursday provided lawmakers an analysis of potential revenue impacts and benefits from the project

Most Read