Columns from Homer mayoral candidates
Sarno: Involve citizens, youth
We’ll plan school visits to discuss local food, health, safety, trails, and culture, to interest youth in outdoor projects like composting, building trails, reducing forest tinder and growing local food.
We’ll work with the nonprofit and business community to produce educational events at HERC gymnasium with food, music, dance and information booths on community projects. Goal: recruit volunteers, build youth/adult teams, involve idle youth in healthy outdoor youth/adult team projects.
Project directors can inform city council of progress, work with mayor’s office to initiate ordinances and resolutions on community projects. City provides land, smoothes permit process, coordinates planning. We will ask city commissions (economic development, planning, parks and recreation, port and harbor) to develop city/nonprofit/business partnerships to accomplish popular projects.
Nonprofit offices and workshops can use the HERC building for community project administration as well as after school arts and recreation for kids. City can give the campus to Homer nonprofit community for education and recreation. Using a folk school program of workshops, the HERC facility can be rebuilt, deconstructed, remediated, insulated, ramped, etc. Youth/adult teams can train in skills like facility maintenance, trail grooming, timber framing. These teams can build a permanent Homer Farmer’s Market and a Folk School in Homer’s Town Center. To demonstrate the economics of renewables, we can heat and light all new infrastructure with renewable energy. For improved economic development, use local building materials.
Trails Are Good for Homer’s Economy
Families with kids, as well as retirees, support Homer’s year-round economy. It’s a fact that many North Slope workers and Alaskan fishing families winter in Homer, raise families here and support local business. These families choose Homer for our good quality of life: schools, parks, playgrounds, beaches, recreation.
But Homer is unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists. My motto is Safety First! Homer should be safe for kids, families and elders to walk/bike, with trail loops and ramped overpasses. The process begins with walking trails, upgrades to bike paths; ultimately, wheelchairs.
Public Health a Priority
Healthy soil is the foundation of public health. Stop dumping fish waste, use fish waste to make compost, incorporate compost by the ton into local soils, grow tons of local food, build large root cellars, store root crops (carrots, onions, potatoes), improve local nutrition. Food bills go down, public health improves, health care costs decrease. Remember: all true wealth is biological.
We will initiate Homer Health, a local health care system. Homer has an excellent healing community. Let’s keep health care money here, rather than send it Outside.
It has been my privilege to be Homer’s mayor for the past two years. I have worked hard to represent Homer as a community “open for business.” Actions that I have promoted in this effort include:
• Changes in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) presentation.
• Encouraging a strategic planning session to prioritize projects, determine appropriate funding sources, and develop an action plan.
• Encouraging local business owners to become more involved in commissions and committees that have the ability to influence how businesses interact with local government.
For the past 10 years my commitment has been to improving the financial integrity of the city by promoting resolutions that have resulted in:
• General fund reserve balances compliant with governmental accounting standards;
• Establishing the Homer Permanent Fund;
• Reinstating the Economic Development Commission;
• Reducing property taxes;
• Providing for non-resident users to contribute through a modest sales tax increase; and,
• Budget reductions exceeding $3 million.
Moving forward, the city needs to continue to focus on meeting the demands for public safety and roads that are core services for a First Class City, but we also need to re-frame the conversation surrounding other community wants/needs.
Consideration needs to be given to alternative ways to provide for parks, recreation, community schools and other quality of life desires held by our citizens. The council has taken some actions to recognize the identified need for a community facility for recreation and other activities by providing funding for a needs assessment and committing property in support of a project if a funding source can be identified.
As state and federal funding continues to grow scarce, all alternative sources of funding need to be considered to meet the continuing needs of our community. Economic development needs to take a larger front-row seat in these discussions and I am committed to working with the community towards these goals.