Lewis: Wants support for nonprofits, trails
In his three campaigns for Homer City Council, incumbent and two-term council member David Lewis has seen the field grow progressively larger. He first ran for office in 2008, a two-person field with council member Barbara Howard.
“I wouldn’t say I ran. I walked,” Lewis said.
In 2011, he and Howard were joined by former council member Mike Heimbuch, both of them the winners. This time, Howard has retired, and Lewis is the sole incumbent in a four-person field.
Lewis said he’s running again for a third and final time because of some unfinished business. He wants to get more support for nonprofits and trails.
“And to help the port and harbor grow, since I have been on three of their committees,” he said. “I think we have a council that works together and is willing to compromise and listen to each other, and I would like to keep that going.”
Born and raised in New York state, Lewis, 60, was born in Auburn, the home of William Seward. He graduated with a bachelor of arts in special education and elementary education from the State University of New York Geneseo.
He came to Alaska in 1976 from New York to work as a teacher in rural Alaska. He taught in Golovin, Elim, White Mountain and St. George Island in the Pribilofs.
He met his wife, Lyn Maslow, also a teacher, in White Mountain. In 1989 they moved to Homer from Brevig Mission after Maslow got pregnant and they wanted to get on the road system. He and Maslow have two sons, Aaron and Robert, both in college.
Lewis had spent a lot of his summers kicking around in the Denali National Park area and wanted to go to Healy.
“Lyn said Homer and we ended up here,” he said.
In Homer, Lewis taught at Razdolna School, did a year of special education at Homer High School, then back to Razdolna. He worked until his retirement as an intensive needs teacher at the old intermediate school — now called the Homer Education and Recreational Complex — and later at West Homer Elementary School.
He now works at Kachemak Bay Campus as coordinator for the youth training program, working with at-risk youth ages 16-21 “and making them good tax paying citizens,” he said.
One of Lewis’ passions has been youth hockey. He started in 1993 with his sons.
“Kevin Bell suckered us in. It was all downhill from there,” he said.
When Lewis’ family moved to Homer, they chose to live in town.
“We wanted water and sewer after being without water all the years in the Bush,” Lewis said.
The most important role of a council member is “to be able to look at everything from all points of view,” Lewis said.
“From there you need to make a decision, and hopefully you are making one the majority of the people like,” he said.
Sometimes a council member has to play devil’s advocate, he said. For example, on an earlier decision to get a deed for the HERC building in case the city wants to sell the land that came up again on Monday (see story, page 1), Lewis said he voted no. He followed former Mayor Jim Hornaday’s advice of always keeping land, he said.
At budget time, Lewis has introduced an ordinance to do away with a seasonal sales tax holiday, but only to reintroduce the question of how you pay for wanted services. Sewer and road funds lose money with the tax holiday, he said.
“People want recreation. They want the parks. You get all kinds of requests,” he said. “Are people willing to pay for it?”
Lewis said he doesn’t think he or any one person are uniquely qualified to serve on the council beyond being “willing to serve but trying to keep the best interest of Homer as a whole and not trying to answer to one particular group — unless it’s hockey,” he said.
Topping his to-do list is getting the vessel haul-out facility going.
“Trying to find a balance between the new police and fire station and making sure we have a recreational facility and not losing one while we get the other,” is another priority, Lewis said. “I’d like to keep the gym. The rest of the building sucks.”
His top three budget priorities are “making sure we have money to fund all the city’s requirements,” Lewis said. “Making sure there is money there for Haven House in the police budget.
If he had to cut, he’d cut discretionary funding like the Pratt Museum, the chamber and the Homer Foundation.
“And you saw what happened last year when all of that was starting to get cut and it hit the fan,” he said.
Homer’s major strength “is the community itself, the way they come together when they have to,” he said. “Economically, I would say our strength is the port and harbor and the fact that we live in a really beautiful area and people want to come and visit.”
Homer’s major weakness is lack of opportunity for young adults ages 18 to 24.
“And the fact that we lack really good basic job training programs,” Lewis said.
Working with the college to expand programs with the community and get the city, college and community to try and bring job training would be the way to start addressing that problem, Lewis said.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at email@example.com.