1. What is the most important duty of the borough mayor? What will be your approach to that job?
Tom Bearup: It is very important to listen and respect the opinions of the people. The mayor should work closely with the Assembly and provide guidance for legislation that is pending before the assembly. The duties of the Mayor encompass a variety of responsibilities that must be considered important. Fiscal prudence to assure that no more money is spent than revenue received; to insure the integrity of citizen and property rights; to provide guidance for borough departments to effectively and efficiently carry out departmental objectives. The Mayor must find solutions to problems in a fair and respectful manner. He should always try to find the least intrusive solution, while still solving issues.
My approach will be to assemble a qualified staff that will compliment borough department heads and directors. They will work as a team to effectively and efficiently administer borough government, under my guidance. I will always be respectful, available and accountable.
Carrol Martin: To make sure the Borough residents are receiving good, respectful service from the Borough government. My approach will be to have regular human resource training and evaluations.
Mike Navarre: The most important duty of the borough mayor is managing and administering the Kenai Peninsula borough government, including overseeing service areas. I use a team approach as my management style, utilizing the expertise and experience within the departments and service areas to help carry out our local government responsibilities.
2. If elected, what issues do you feel require immediate attention?
Bearup: There are a number of issues that require immediate or near term attention. In no particular order they are:
A resolution to the Kalifornsky Beach flooding issue, I will take action.
A resolution and signing of the Surgery Center of Kenai, Central Peninsula Hospital transfer agreement dispute
Establish a plan to attract new business disciplines to the Kenai Peninsula
Effectively manage infrastructure growth and area growth resulting from the oil and gas industry expansion on the Peninsula
Reestablish trust of the Senior citizens and veterans in the borough by ceasing attempts to reduce their benefits or raise their taxes.
Expanding outreach and interaction between the Borough seat in Soldotna and other communities throughout the Peninsula. It is very important that all communities in the borough feel they are a part of the borough and a participant in the borough political structure. All borough citizens need the same access to borough resources.
Martin: Short term immediate (before freeze-up) reduction of flooding in the Kalifornsky Beach, Anchor Point and Seward areas and a construction plan to avoid spring flooding such as what happened this past spring.
Navarre: The gas line and LNG project will require immediate attention because the planning, tax changes, legislation, etc. will be taking place over the course of the next couple years, but starting immediately. I also think healthcare requires immediate attention because it has so much impact on government, individuals, businesses and families. It is something that we have to continue working on.
3. Has the borough struck the proper balance between sales tax and property tax? Are there inequities within the borough’s tax structure that should be addressed?
Bearup: The current balance between sales tax and property appears to be equitable. As the needs of the community and infrastructure change there is always a possibility that a change in the balance could be necessary. The balance between the two should always be monitored with vigilance. However, any change contemplated would be subject to voter approval.
Martin: I do not feel the Borough has figured out the solution to this ever changing balance. We have to keep it forefront and constantly work on it.
Navarre: I think we have a pretty good balance between sales and property taxes. I think that the borough’s tax structure, however, is due for a comprehensive review, to determine if changes should be considered and to identify issues that may be developing that could or should be addressed before they become future problems.
4. What steps can the borough take to improve access to health care while maintaining the viability of its publically owned hospitals?
Bearup: The borough can encourage health care education to make citizens aware of the medical resources available to them throughout the borough. The borough can participate in the sponsorship of health fairs, community awareness programs, immunization programs and assorted outreach programs. The borough should also encourage healthy lifestyles via community wellness, safety programs and a focus on prevention.
The borough should encourage competition and cooperation with the private by extending a welcoming hand to physicians and medical professionals to relocate to the Kenai Peninsula. This will foster competition that lowers medical costs to all residents.
Private sector growth is critical to the overall health of the borough hospitals and borough residents.
Private sector growth expands to overall utilization and need for affordable health care and will enable the borough hospitals to maintain their non-profit mission.
Martin: We need more emergency services until bigger adjustments can be made to an overall system, nation-wide that needs fixing. A personal example was this spring when I was in desperate pain from kidney stones and spent almost two hours in the emergency room till a doctor could give the OK for pain relief treatment.
Navarre: I think we have good access to healthcare, it’s just too expensive. I’d like to engage our residents, our healthcare providers, the business community, hospital boards, and local and state government leaders on a consensus building process to determine where we would like to move towards in healthcare, including the role our borough owned hospitals should play. The current system is not sustainable and we’ll see constant changes in the future. We should have a healthy dialog about what we want for our communities and our residents, and develop a consensus plan on how to best move in that direction.
5. Funding for education is the largest item in the borough budget. What is your philosophy on funding for the school district?
Bearup: The funding of the KPB school district is a complex budgetary item. The investment in the education of our children will be a primary and significant focus of my administration. When the budget is submitted it will be given full consideration with an open mind of funding to the cap. The scholastic needs of our children is a very important part of the budgetary process.
Retention of teaching staff and assuring that students and teachers have access to the latest technology will be encouraged and supported by my administration.
One of my platform points is : Teachers + Technology = B.E.S.T. (Better Educated Students Today.). I will encourage and support the investment in the future of our children, through education.
Martin: I taught school for seventeen years in Colorado and Alaska at the Jr. High, High School and College levels, was a High School Principal and a partner/instructor in a private Business College. My last two teaching experiences were at AUSE in Juneau and a year at KPC. All four of my children and eight grandchildren (over the past forty Years) have attended public, private and home school in the Kenai Peninsula Borough. I have seen many good, very good and some not so good situations. Loosing many vocational courses is not good. Since the school budget is the largest item in the borough budget there lies the biggest opportunities to save. We must all be responsible for allocating and spending wisely.
Navarre: Under Alaska statutes, the school district administration and school board have the responsibility for developing and administering the school district budget. My philosophy is to work closely with them, ask questions to better understand their budget needs, look at what funding levels they get from the state, and determine the proper and prudent expenditure of borough funds for education.