Anderson an inspiration to run for office

Wanted: Homer City Council members. Minimum qualifications: 18 or older, U.S. citizen, a registered voter in the city of Homer, and a resident for at least one year. Pay: $75 a council meeting day for at least two meetings a month. Work load includes reading thick council packets, attending meetings, and responding to citizen emails and phone calls. May be subject to recall for causes loosely defined. Hazards include long meetings, verbal abuse and tirades on social media. Candidates are subject to approval by the voters. Apply at city clerk’s office.

Next Tuesday at noon the filing period ends for the Homer City Council elections. With council members David Lewis and Catriona Reynolds not running for re-election, two 3-year seats are open. As of press time, two candidates have filed, Sarah Vance and Kimberly Ketter.

Given the drama of the recall campaign against council members Donna Aderhold, Lewis and Reynolds, it’s not surprising only two people so far have filed for office — and one of them, Vance, helped lead the recall. Between February and July, Homer went through one of its nastiest periods in political history.

Right or not, the recall turned neighbors against neighbors and small town politics into a sewer lagoon of anger, confusion, misunderstanding and ugliness. It will take a lot of compassion and healing to get over the recall. That the recall was soundly rejected suggests most Homer voters felt the alleged grounds lacked merit and that taking a controversial stand, however unpopular, did not mean a council member’s term should be ended prematurely.

It’s also possible citizens seeking to serve their community have burned out. In the 2015 election we had six candidates and a race so close that Beau Burgess and Heath Smith went into a run-off election. Last year, only three candidates ran for two seats.

Yeah, it can be a rough job, but if you’re intelligent, hard working, diligent, honest and considerate, your city needs you. What we need are women and men who can be like Margaret Anderson.

In Homer city politics, Anderson set the mold for being a good public official. Last Friday, one of the founders of this community died at age 94. We’re lucky that in 1947 at age 24, on a whim the young Margaret Szili decided to move to Alaska. She met her husband, Fred Anderson, on the plane to Kodiak. They settled in Homer in the early 1950s.

In 1955, Anderson became the first woman elected to public office in Homer, the Public Utility District No. 1. She later was elected to the Homer City Council in 1979. She had qualities that made her an ideal council member, like being prepared for every meeting and always reading the council packet.

Friend Larry Smith called her “ego free,” and said she knew how to be a gracious loser.

“She thought that being straightforward was the key to getting things done. Even if you were on the losing side, you didn’t go sulk; you put your shoulder to the wheel and got the work done,” he said.

Anderson knew how to get along with political opponents, too. Though she disagreed with Homer Thompson, another political activist, they remained good friends, Smith said.

Her former son-in-law, Brian Bennett, said, “Margaret focused on the strongest argument, not the loudest voice.”

We know Homer has citizens who might have some of the qualities of a Margaret Anderson. We know this town has people who care about our community — a lot of people, actually — and have the time, energy and commitment to serve on the council.

We also know that the recall soured a lot of citizens on serving. A hard job has become that much more difficult and unpleasant. It will take tough, resilient people brave enough and strong enough to serve their community. We know you’re out there. Step up. Be like Margaret Anderson.

– Michael Armstrong, editor

More in News

Christie Hill prepares to play “Taps” during the 9/11 memorial service on Saturday. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Homer honors lives lost during 9/11

The Homer-Kachemak Bay Rotary held a Sept. 11 memorial ceremony at the… Continue reading

Judith Eckert
COVID-19 patient says monoclonal antibody infusion saved her life

Antibody infusions highly effective in reducing risk of hospitalization, according to FDA trial ..

A sign flashing “Keep COVID down” also offers information on where to get testing and vaccines on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, on the Homer Spit in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
SPH holding steady in COVID-19 surge

Despite hospital crisis in Anchorage, Homer’s hospital not impacted, spokesperson tells Homer City Council.

Brie Drummond speaks in support of mask mandates on Monday, Sept. 13, for the Kenai Peninsula School Board meeting at Homer High School in Homer, Alaska. During a work session before the meeting, the district presented revisions to its COVID-19 mitigation protocols. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
School district revises COVID-19 mitigation plans

The revisions come as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Alaska and on the Kenai Peninsula.

A protester stands outside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin building in Soldotna on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Parents square off over masks at school board meeting

Some parents said they will keep their kids home if masks are required, while others say they’ll keep their kids home if masks aren’t required.

Borough School Board election

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, elections will be held for Homer City Council,… Continue reading

Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly election

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, elections will be held for Homer City Council,… Continue reading

Homer City Council election

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, elections will be held for Homer City Council,… Continue reading

Janie Leask, a Homer resident, spoke in support of the new multi-use community center during Monday night’s city council meeting, stating the need for community recreation is vital.
Council moves forward with HERC plans

After years of discussions and planning, the Homer City Council is quickly… Continue reading

Most Read