Candidate QA: Lane Chesley

Former Homer City Council member Lane Chesley seeks to move on to Kenai Peninsula Borough government service with his run for the District 8 KPB Assembly seat now held by Assembly President Kelly Cooper.

Because of term limits, Cooper cannot run for re-election and is running as an independent for the District 31 House of Representatives seat against incumbent Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer.

Chesley would have had opposition from Paul Hueper, owner of a bed and breakfast, but Hueper failed to get a hard copy of his declaration of candidacy to the borough clerk’s office by the filing deadline. Hueper had filed his paperwork with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. The borough clerk ruled Hueper not eligible, clearing the way for Chesley to run unopposed.

Born and raised in Batavia, Illinois, Chesley moved to Alaska in 1979 to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he graduated in 1984 with a bachelor of arts in sociology and social work with a minor in Alaska Native studies. He married his wife Melody in 1983, and they have one son, Gareth, now 31.

Chesley has worked in construction, commercial fishing, fishing supply and marine safety. His recent work experience includes project manager for Puffin Electric; project manager for SOLAS Marine Services, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and vice-president of operations, Eugene Stolzfus Architects.

He has served on the Homer Advisory Planning Commission, the Homer City Council and on the South Peninsula Hospital Inc. Board of Directors and the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies Board of Directors. His hobbies include gardening, dip net fishing and moose hunting.

Chesley identifies politically as an independent and in his candidate statement writes, “I listen to all sides of issues.”

Question: What made you decide to run for Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly?

A: My decision to run for assembly is based on three of my passions:

1. expanding health care services and making health care more affordable to the residents of Homer and the South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area;

2. supporting the school district to keep students, educators and support staff healthy, safe and adequately funded;

3. pursuing economic development opportunities that bring living wage paying jobs to our community.

Q: What do you see as the three biggest issues facing the city currently?

A: 1. services and health care for our expanding senior citizens. Projected increases by 2030 for ages 75-84 is 83% and ages 85+ is 86%.

2. viability of our fisheries economy.

3. viability of our tourism economy.

Q: What could the borough be doing better in terms of handling and mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic (if anything)?

A: I think the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly and administration are working very hard and have been effective in addressing the effects of the pandemic. I look forward to the post-pandemic work of figuring out the most effective strategies used and how to better prepare the borough for the future.

Q: What will be the biggest priority/priorities heading into the borough’s next budget cycle?

A: Assessing the negative impacts of the pandemic on the school district budget and the revenue streams that fund the borough.

Q: What skills do you bring to the table that would make you an effective assembly member?

A: I have served 12 years in public service roles including the Homer Advisory Planning Commission, Homer City Council, Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies and South Peninsula Hospital Board of Directors. These opportunities have given me skills in: being a productive participant in a governing body, understanding of ordinances and regulations, developing and managing budgets, understanding planning and zoning land use issues.

Q: What is your favorite book and why?

A: My favorite book is “Positive Fishing: The Art of Angling Your Outer Limit.” A premise of this book is that the most successful fisherman are those who dig deep within themselves to keep making that one extra cast with the belief that it will be the one to catch that sought after fish. In other words, the only way to catch a fish is to have your line in the water! This lesson applies to all that I do in business and public service to keep an optimistic attitude and strive hard to go that extra mile to solve whatever problem I am working on.