Current Homer City Council Member Caroline Venuti is seeking to repeat her term, running for one of two open seats in the municipal election coming up on Oct. 6.
Venuti is a lifelong Alaskan who grew up in Kodiak. She has lived in Homer for 35 years and is coordinator of the Learning Resource Center at Kachemak Bay Campus.
She attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks and University of Alaska Anchorage, earning a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education and administration.
Venuti has had a long career as an educator, arriving in Homer from Hope, where she was a teacher. She also taught at Paul Banks Elementary School and West Homer Elementary School.
Before being elected to the city council in 2017, Venuti served on the Homer Library Advisory Board and the City Transportation Committee.
If reelected, this would be Venuti’s second term on the city council.
Question: What made you decide to run for Homer City Council again?
A: I have the energy and time required to continue in this position in city leadership. I enjoy working with the current Council and know that we have unfinished work that needs to be completed. The current council is intelligent and diverse. We have been able to get many projects completed. We respect each other’s opinions and have created a healthy climate for this policy-making body. I enjoy hearing the concerns of residents. I try to reach compromise so that the city becomes a partner in the plans for growth in all areas.
Q: Other than the issues caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, what do you see as the three biggest issues facing the city currently?
A: As I watch the current fire devastation of entire communities in California and Oregon, I am saddened. It is apparent that city governments must have an awareness of how important well thought out disaster preparedness is to the residents of a community. Residents that know what to do in the case of a catastrophic event can be calmer and make plans that can save lives; but this takes an open dialogue of what residents can expect from city resources in case of a disaster. There are three issues I look forward to working on in during my second term.
1. Climate change and coastal erosion awareness need to be a priority in all our decisions.
2. The need to develop a deep-water dock to accommodate deeper draft Coast Guard ships continues. We want to keep focused on insuring that the Coast Guard has adequate facilities to properly function here in Homer. The Guard has long been an important part of our community.
3. The need for an alternate route to access our community is obvious. Homer is at the mercy of one highway and presently does not have a commercial airline serving Homer and has a minimal ferry service schedule to adequately serve our community.
Q: What could Homer be doing better in terms of handling and mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic (if anything)?
A: I think the city should establish a Health Authority that works in coordination with the State of Alaska and local medical providers to develop a clearly organized approach to dealing with not only COVID-19 but with any form of a community medical crisis. This is a very valid concern from the citizens of Homer.
Q: What will be the biggest priority/priorities heading into the city’s next budget cycle?
An unfortunate result of COVID-19 has been the reduction in sales taxes collected from businesses that have seen a negative economic impact in revenues, which includes more than one business that has closed. The lack of revenue from leases at the Homer Airport has also impacted the city’s revenue stream. The council will need to consider how to make up for this shortfall in our biennial budget.
Q: What skills do you bring to the table that would make you an effective council member?
A: I have been working in this community as an educator for the past 35 years. This experience has provided me the opportunity to meet more than a few of the members of this community, many of whom I know by first name. This makes me very approachable to my constituents. I also believe that it is important to listen to all sides of an issue before making any decision. It is especially important to focus on finding solutions rather than focusing on a problem. I am a positive thinker and know that we are all working together as an effective body for the best interests of all members of our community.
Q: What is your favorite book and why?
A: I am an avid reader so I must say my favorite book is whatever book I am currently reading. One book that has had a significant impact on me, though I read it years ago, is “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson. This environmental science book documents effects on the environment caused by indiscriminate use of pesticides. The author carefully explains what the balance of nature is and how we humans can take on more effective roles in protecting the environment. Her writing encouraged me to be more environmentally conscious and proactive in my daily life.