I first ran for Homer City Council more than three years ago, because I wanted to put a simple idea to the test — Could an elected official be someone I could trust and respect and still get re-elected? Can a politician be transparent, clear on his position, approach each issue with regard for evidence rather than preconception? Can people tolerate or even appreciate issued-based discourse?
In Tuesday’s runoff election for one Homer City Council seat, incumbent Beauregard Burgess faces a challenge by political newcomer Heath Smith. Smith came in second in the Oct. 6 election, with 408 votes or 37 percent of the votes for a single seat, closely followed by Burgess with 391 votes or 35 percent.
Absentee voting in person is 8 a.m.-5 p.m. today, Friday and Monday at Homer City Hall. Polls are open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday at Homer No. 1, City Hall, and Homer No. 2, Homer Senior Citizens.
In the District 9 Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly race between two political novices, Willy Dunne, 60, handily defeated Dawson Slaughter, 25, with 56.26 percent to 43.51 percent of the vote in unofficial results.
Dunne, of Fritz Creek, led in all precincts except Slaughter’s hometown of Anchor Point, where Slaughter won with 68.56 percent.
In the other lower peninsula borough race, incumbent school board member Elizabeth Downing ran unopposed and took 98 percent of the votes.
Our city of Homer, in my opinion, is one of the best places to live. Now, I’ll admit, I didn’t always feel this way. The lack of opportunities for young families combined with weather that was and is sometimes undesirable created in me a storm of discontent.
As I grew up and started a family with my most favorite person, my opinion started to change. I noticed things I hadn’t noticed before. Things like how everyone seems to really care about your kids in the schools. They don’t just say they care; they actually do.
As if it were cemented in time, the earliest memory of my entry to Homer, in 1974, is canvased onto the outside wall of the bathrooms at Paul Banks Elementary School. That mural is an enduring legacy to the imaginations of a wide-eyed group of 3rd-5th graders.
Homer is a unique place on earth that attracts a wide diversity of people to live and work here. Collectively, we are responsible for determining and maintaining the quality of life that fulfills the needs of the vast majority of our residents.
In spite of evidence to the contrary, I believe most people can make good decisions if provided with good information. My only intent when first seeking political office in 2012 was to test this belief. Unlike the other five candidates running for City Council this year, I’m running on my record — a record of clarity, honesty, integrity and action.
Members of the City Council serve the community, and I would be honored to represent the residents of Homer in this capacity. I believe I bring several skills to the position: listening, objectivity, the ability and interest to delve below the surface of issues, and an understanding of how decisions on complex issues can affect City residents deeply.
There are a number of important issues facing the citizens of Homer today but none more important than electing the two best candidates to City Council leadership for the next three years. Spending must be reined in and the budget must be balanced. And listening to the voters of Homer and giving them true representation is my pledge. The “health, safety and welfare” of our community depends upon it.
Has the borough struck the proper balance between sales tax and property tax? Are changes to the tax structure needed?
What do you see as the top-3 core services provided by the city of Homer?
In a long career that includes photography and natural gas sales, food has been the start and the most recent aspect of Homer City Council candidate Tom Stroozas’ life. The son of a grocer and butcher, and the grandson of a Greek immigrant, Stroozas, 63, grew up in the family grocery store, Stroozas Big Dollar Supermarket. Now semi-retired, he publishes America’s Cuisine Anchorage, a guide to restaurants and hotels in Southcentral Alaska, including Anchorage, Kenai, Soldotna, Seward and Homer.
Lifelong Alaskan Heath Smith, 50, comes with a multigenerational political pedigree. Though Smith is running for political office for the first time, his grandfather, George Sharrock, was known as “the earthquake mayor,” or mayor of Anchorage in 1964 during the Great Alaska Earthquake. His father, Bill Smith, also ran for city council and recently served as Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member, stepping down in 2014 after he could not run for re-election because of term limits. His uncle, Larry Smith, also has been active in politics.
If Beauregard Burgess, 30, represents the Millennial generation of Homer City Council candidates, Robert “Bob” Howard, 73, anchors the cusp of the Baby Boomer end. Born in 1944 in Turlock, Calif., he went through one of the quintessential experiences of his generation, the University of California at Berkeley Free Speech movement in 1964. Howard attended UC Berkeley then, but was a clean-cut engineering student.
“I never protested. I was just a quiet farm boy trying to get an education,” Howard said. “I totally skipped the hippy era.”
With Homer City Council member Francie Roberts not running for re-election, council member Beauregard Burgess is the only incumbent in the two-seat race. Appointed in April 2012 and then elected that fall to a 3-year term, he’s also the only candidate who has run for political office.
Editor's note: The names of Donna Aderhold's two stepchildren have been corrected.
The daughter of a civil engineer who moved his family around the United States from project to project, Donna Aderhold, 53, said her diverse geographic background exposed her to a lot of different points of view and culture. That would be an asset as a Homer City Council member, she said. Born in Asheville, N.C., she also lived in Texas, Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, Washington and Missouri.
People who have been watching the Homer City Council for the past five years might have seen a shift in the council’s make-up. With the election of Catriona Reynolds in 2014 and Beauregard Burgess in 2012, the council has changed from middle-aged and senior members to people under 50, some with children still in school. Council candidate Joni Wise, 35, a mother of five children, seeks to continue that trend.
In this year’s Homer City Council race, the buzzword might be “diversity.” Several candidates cited the desire for a more balanced council as why they’re running.
“I want to see more of an evened-out council,” said candidate Joni Wise, 35 and the mother of five children. “I believe you need all of the views.”
Castner: People get to vote on charter
Homer is a wonderful community; people pray together, play together, fish, farm, support their youth, and enjoy the talents of its chefs and artists. While diverse in political view, community values of fairness and non-discrimination generally prevail.