In the 2013 Homer City Council election, lifelong Homer resident Corbin Arno had a moment of glory on election night, seeming to have won by four votes over incumbent Bryan Zak.
After absentee ballots were counted and a recount held, Zak pulled ahead by a squeaker, a 10-vote margin.
Arno again is running for council.
“I’m still concerned about some of the things going on in the city,” Arno said of why he’s running again. “No matter what the council says, they’re still business unfriendly.”
Arno, 33, is a second-generation Alaskan, the grandson of Pastor Ray Arno, founder of Alaska Bible Institute in Homer. He was born and raised in Homer and attended Christian Community School before getting a general equivalency high school diploma. He said he graduated from “the school of life.”
At age 13 he started learning to run heavy equipment with his father, Mike Arno, and now helps run the family excavating business, Arno’s Construction. He’s been working 12-hour days this summer on projects like the Harbormaster Building project or the Karen Hornaday Park trail and road improvements.
One perspective Arno said he has about Homer is that the community includes people outside city limits. Those residents support city services through sales taxes, he said.
“No matter if they’re giving as much money in taxes as the people living in the city, they are a huge part of the income of Homer,” he said.
The most important role of a council member is “listening to the community,” Arno said. “I’ve been to council meetings, I’ve seen when something comes up, only the people who are affected by what’s on the agenda show up.”
Sometimes the council pushes things through too fast. Working people don’t have time to read the papers and attend meetings.
“Definitely to me the biggest thing is community involvement if I get on the council,” Arno said.
What makes him unique is that he was born and raised here, Arno said.
“I care about what Homer’s like in 20 years. I want to raise my family here,” he said. “I care about Homer. I care about its citizens. I care about its businesses. I care about its fisheries, the quality of life here.”
Topping his to-do list is rolling back laws that affect business, Arno said.
“Make us more business friendly. That sign ordinance has to go,” he said.
As budget priorities, Arno supports the basics: police, fire and public works.
“Never will you get out of my mouth, ‘you don’t have enough money. We’ll have to cut fire and police,’” he said.
If he had to cut the budget, he might go with a road project, Arno said.
“If they got along this far with the road they have, I’m sure they could make it another two years,” he said. “I want to be responsible with other people’s money. When people aren’t dealing with their own money, they don’t seem to think there’s a limit.”
Arno said he’s in the middle on a community center, something he knows people want.
“That’s not a thing the city of Homer should provide,” he said. “I look at things from the business perspective. Not everybody is going to use a community recreation center.”
Someone could take a recreation center as a business idea, though, he said. Make it a coffee shop with video games, “pay $5 and hang ouT for two hours.”
Homer’s strength is its volunteers, Arno said.
“I’ve always been impressed with that. No matter what, if somebody sees a need, somebody will lend a hand,” he said.
A weakness and problem are things like drug use and rising crime.
“Parents need to become more involved with their kids,” he said.
All in all, Homer is a great place to live, Arno said, something many people take for granted.
“I drive down Baycrest every day. Not every morning is the same. The view amazes,” he said. “You couldn’t ask for a better place to live.”
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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