Tom Stroozas: Wants to serve community

Tom Stroozas is a transplant from the Lower 48, similar to many Homer residents who visited, were captured by Homer’s beauty and decided to make a home here. Now, he looks to the city council as a way to serve the town he has called home since 2006.

“I believe that you should live your life so that when you’re gone it will have mattered and if by being elected to the city council in Homer I can make a difference in the quality of life of everyone who lives here, then that’s a good sense of well-being,” Stroozas said.

Three candidates — Stroozas, Shelly Erickson, and Kimberly Ketter — are running for the two seats open on the city council. The two candidates with the highest number of votes will win those seats. Incumbent Gus VanDyke and Bryan Zak are not running again, though Zak is running for mayor.

Born in Superior, Wis., Stroozas grew up in his father’s grocery business and butcher shop. He served in the Navy for four years and, after a few years in Florida, Stroozas moved to Charlotte, N.C. There he met his wife, Debbie, and had their son. He now is a grandfather to three girls and a boy who live with his son in North Carolina.

In North Carolina, Stroozas worked as the department head for commercial marketing at Piedmont Natural Gas Company, which served over a million customers in North and South Carolina and in Nashville, Tenn. Through his work with the natural gas company as he worked to expand the use of natural gas in the hospitality industry, he became a part of the North Carolina chapter of American Culinary Federation as a way to network with chefs and business owners.

Though he retired from the natural gas distribution company in 2006, to say that Stroozas has remained active is an understatement. After moving to Homer, he continued to work remotely as executive director of the ACF until 2013. He has been even more active in the Homer and greater Alaska community.

Stroozas and Debbie started the America’s Cuisine Dining Guide that covers restaurants from Anchorage to the end of the road on the Kenai Peninsula in 2011. He currently serves as president of the Homer Elks Lodge and president of the Homer Chamber of Commerce board, on which he has served for the last five years. He also has served on the city’s planning commission and Homer Voice for Business, a group of local business people that advocate for issues that affect the well-being of Homer businesses, he said. Additionally, he helps with the Homer Garden Club’s annual harvest dinner and works with the Boy Scouts.

“I often have to sit down and ask myself, how did I ever have time to work,” Stroozas said.

This will be Stroozas’ second time vying for a seat on the Homer City Council. He ran last year when there were seven candidates competing for two seats. Although he was not elected to a seat, he did well enough that he decided to run again, Stroozas said.

“I’m running for office because I’m hoping that my acute business acumen will be an asset to sustainable financial responsibility for our city and how the city spends the taxpayers’ money,” Stroozas said.

“I’m a good listener and I believe in representing everybody. Although so often people seem to disagree on certain issues, listening to both sides of the story you can generally come up with an outcome that works for everybody. I was taught at an early age that 10 percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing so I like to listen to people and try to craft a solution to a problem that everybody walks away feeling they got something of what they asked for.”

He says his biggest accomplishment in service to the city of Homer was as a part of the planning commission in creating Ordinance 14-18(A)(s-2), which amended city code regarding wind energy systems and communications towers. The ordinance was passed by the city council on Aug. 25. The ordinance provides a set of rules applying to companies building communications towers and removes the needs for multiple hearings about standards for each proposed tower, Stroozas said.

“I think it will save the city a lot of time and money going forward in erecting these particular devices in our community and let’s face it, communications is an important part of our lives,” Stroozas said. “We’re going to see more of these communications towers and having a good set of rules in place levels the playing field for everyone who wants to be involved.”

Anna Frost can be reached at anna.frost@homernews.com.

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