Assembly District 5: Morton: Budget reflects community’s values

  • By Leslie Morton
  • Tuesday, September 26, 2017 9:45am
  • Opinion

I’m running for a seat on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly to help maintain our community and quality of life. My husband and I chose to raise our two daughters here on the Kenai Peninsula. With good schools, quality health care, engaged businesses, a growing agricultural sector, amazing arts, and access to world-class outdoor activities, it was an easy decision. I want the Kenai to continue to be a place where our kids and friends will choose to live. We need a reasonable balance in how the Assembly considers new ordinances, budget allocations, and comprehensive land planning.

Easier said than done, however. None of us wants to pay more taxes but few are willing to experience diminished services. We live in a time of declining state and local revenues with a $4 million deficit in the FY18 budget. Where to trim the budget? Consider that 75% of our budget funds schools, the hospital, emergency services, road maintenance and solid waste management. Borough government represents another 15% of the budget, but borough staffing hasn’t increased in 20 years. Even small cost-saving cuts such as closing the Soldotna landfill another day or further reducing custodial services in schools are not simply inconvenient but unhealthy. My point is that keeping our budget lean is a smart goal, but we need to think deeply about what we’re willing to live without.

I believe our budget and what we choose to fund is a reflection of our values as a community. Within the larger borough, I will work to sustain public education including post-secondary and vocational training, and to promote diversification of small business and agriculture. In District 5, which I hope to serve, I will oppose the proposed annexation by the City of Soldotna, support development but regulation of the marijuana industry, and work towards improved emergency services.

I believe I can help bring balance to the Assembly. Although I grew up in a small business family, I’ve been a civil servant for decades. I listen and have a reputation for finding reasonable compromises. In my position with the Department of Defense, I earned the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award as a Natural Resource Manager for having “consistently found ways to satisfy the Navy’s needs while concurrently protecting the environment.” Locally, I’ve worked for our School District as an English Language Learners Tutor, as Board President of the Kenai Watershed Forum, with the City of Soldotna Parks & Recreation, as the Kenai Peninsula Resource Conservation & Development District Coordinator, and on the Prince William Sound Regional Citizen Advisory Committee. I look forward to using my experience to serve District 5 and other borough residents on the Assembly.

More in Opinion

Shana Loshbaugh (Courtesy photo)
History conference seeking input from peninsula people

The Alaska Historical Society will hold its annual conference on the central peninsula this fall

Coach Dan Gensel (left) prepares to get his ear pierced to celebrate Soldotna High School’s first team-sport state championship on Friday, Febr. 12, 1993 in Soldotna, Alaska. Gensel, who led the Soldotna High School girls basketball team to victory, had promised his team earlier in the season that he would get his ear pierced if they won the state title. (Rusty Swan/Peninsula Clarion)
Remembering my friend, Dan Gensel

It’s a friendship that’s both fixed in time and eternal

(Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The false gods in America’s gun culture

HB 61 is a solution in search of a problem.

KPBSD Superintendent Clayton Holland
Reflecting on a year of growth and resilience

A message from the superintendent

Jim Cockrell, commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. (Courtesy photo/Office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy)
Honoring the 69 peace officers who have died serving Alaskans

Alaska Peace Officer Memorial Day honors the brave men and women who have given their lives in the line of duty

Rep. Maxine Dibert (Image via Alaska State Legislature)
Opinion: The economic case for a significant investment in education

As our oil production and related revenue have declined, our investments in education have remained flat

Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion
Smoke from the Swan Lake Fire impairs visibility on the Sterling Highway on Aug. 20, 2019.
Don’t let the abundance of snow fool you; Alaskans should prepare for wildfire season

Last summer’s 590 wildfires burned more than 3.1 million acres in Alaska, about 41% of the total acreage burned in the U.S.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File
Former Gov. Frank Murkowski in May 2019.
Opinion: Statewide sales tax just doesn’t make ‘horse sense’

Money for the dividend was meant to be sized after State government services obligations had been met

The Alaska State Capitol. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Point of View: Big steps to strengthen child care system

Funding in the budget, statutory reforms and support from the administration are all necessary to strengthen the child care system in Alaska

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks during a news conference in which options for a long-range fiscal plan were discussed. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tax talk should be paired with PFD pragmatism

Alaska is 30 years into state budget deficits, borrowing billions from savings to pay the bills.

Opinion: Seafood Producers Cooperative responds to WFC ruling

“I want to convey our great disappointment…”

Lawmakers, staff and other workers inside the The Alaska State Capitol are preparing this week for the upcoming session of the Alaska State Legislature that starts Jan. 17, including the release of the first round of prefile bills published Monday by the Legislative Affairs Agency. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Alaska Voices: Senate tax bills threaten critically needed community investment

Hilcorp Alaska’s role as a major sponsor of our race is a source of great pride