City Council candidates share their point of view

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, elections will be held for Homer City Council, Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly District 9 and the Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education District 8. To help inform voters, the Homer News will introduce the candidates, show their answers to a group of questions and give them an opportunity to make their pitch on why you should elect them. This week, we share point of views from the candidates.

Absentee in person voting is now open at the Homer City Clerk’s office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Election Day is 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 5.

Homer City Council

Three seats are up for election this year: two three-year seats currently held by council member Donna Aderhold and Heath Smith, and the last year of a seat held by former council member Joey Evensen. For the two, three-year seats, the top two vote getters are elected. For the one-year seat, the winner is elected. Incumbent council member Heath Smith is running for the one-year seat against Jason Davis, who was appointed by the council to fill out Evensen’s term until the election.

The candidates are:

Two, Three-year seats

Donna Aderhold, incumbent

Shelly Erickson

Adam Hykes

One-year seat

Heath Smith, incumbent (but running for the 1-year seat)

Jason Davis, appointed

Three-year seats

Donna Aderhold

We are stronger and more resilient when we come together as a community. Homer incorporated as a city in 1964 because residents decided to pool their resources to build and maintain roads, develop water and wastewater systems, provide local law enforcement, and decide as a community how the city should grow and develop. Important decisions in the public interest are made through elected city council members. I have had the privilege of serving Homer on the city council for six years and I am asking you to reelect me for a third term to continue representing the community as a city policymaker.

Some of the things I am most proud of leading or co-leading during my tenure include representing the council on the city’s Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance Committee, advocating for a facilitated offsite work session that allowed council members to thoroughly discuss and resolve issues that led to the construction of the modern police station we have today, championing continued forward momentum on the Homer Education and Recreation Complex (HERC) and a future multi-use community center, bringing the Climate Action Plan back to the forefront for the city and participating on an Alaska municipal climate network, co-authoring multiple programs and ordinances to spread federal coronavirus related funds to those in need throughout Homer, and participating on the Public Works Campus Task Force that evaluated the tsunami risk at the current location of the public works campus and recommended its eventual relocation following an incremental approach.

Of course, individual council members do not operate in a vacuum, we work together to develop public policy and depend on input from city residents. I enjoy working with the full council and city manager to evaluate what’s ahead for the city and set priorities for council action. I have learned a lot from the viewpoints other councilmembers bring to the table. I am proud that the council hired a city manager last year who is forward thinking and has ideas for our community’s future. I am hoping to continue working with him on policy action where we share a similar vision. I appreciate hearing from you; conversations with constituents shape my perspectives.

If reelected to city council, some of the issues I am interested in moving forward include finding funding to demolish the HERC and build the multi-use community center, maintaining focus on climate mitigation and adaptation, continuing work to make Homer an accessible city, improving walkability and bike-ability throughout Homer, and establishing policies that lead to affordable housing in our city.

I understand the complexity and diversity of issues that face city council, listen to others and maintain an open mind, have critical thinking skills, advocate my position at the council table, and respond to and work with constituents who reach out to me.

Election Day is Tuesday October 5 and early voting is open now. I ask you to vote for me. Regardless, please vote!

Shelly Erickson

Community is of great importance. It is why many of us live in a small town. Over the past few years, we have watched our community erode for various reasons. This is very troubling. It’s time to quit judging, vilifying and weaponizing people based on their views of issues. Reality is that most want to be happy and have a peaceful life.

Fear is not our friend. Fear isolates us from community, and eventually from being able to sift through the multiple voices speaking loudly from either side of the aisle. Its time to face our fears and be courageous and live in community again. While there are loud voices on each side of the issues, there is the silent majority in the middle who doesn’t want a fight, but want to live life without conflict.

We can view people with the attitude that they only care about themselves. Assumption isn’t truth. Do we care enough to find out the truth about the WHY of their choices? Do we try to understand their choices and beliefs, before we speak condemnation, shame and judgement in the attempt to try to change their mind or make them conform?

Do you know who your friends really are? The anger, disagreements in choices, disrespect of the way people choose to live, has torn our community apart; from small children to the old and on every aspect of life. Who can we trust?

There have been many people this past year, that have climbed exhausted out of bed to go to work. These are our friends. The unknowns of this time have put many people on edge. I am personally grateful for the people that have stepped up and worked to keep the town moving forward even when others weren’t nice. The huge influx of people this summer brought many challenges, but we made it through them. To those workers and employers that showed up and continued to make this town a destination and a place to live – thank you! You are appreciated!

How do we solve the bigger problem moving forward? Many times, it’s a huge disaster that forces people to change, work together and value each other. This past year didn’t bring us together, but drove us further apart. We need to deliberately choose to trust the good in each other. This starts by us caring for our family, our neighbors, and our community. Change starts at home. Be the change. Speak encouraging words to those who don’t look or act like you. Have a positive attitude in a negative situation. I know it can be hard, but we can do this and we can do it well if we set our minds to it.

Adam Hykes

As my name has gotten around town lately, people have been asking me, “What are your Politics?” To be honest, I cringe at that question.

I worked in state government long enough to see what a clown show “Politics” can be. It’s “Politics” that has our State officials wasting an entire month fighting over who will be in power so they can over rule the other half for the session and not have to work together. I hate politics.

My hope is that politics need not have a place on the city level. I can’t sit down with people from western alaska, or see the faces of people in southeast. But I can meet with the people of Homer. I know a lot of you already. I’ll continue to see you around town, whether I win or lose this election.

To those who know that I worked for Sarah Vance, know that I am not a clone of her in city council form. She and I disagreed on plenty of issues. But my values do align with hers in that I vow to uphold and defend the U.S Constitution. You should know that before you vote for me, because I won’t budge on that issue. However, there is plenty you and I can talk about from within that framework.

In closing, I am just a local guy who loves my city. My heart for Homer is for us to grow and flourish. I want Homer to become a place where people can raise a family, AND financially support them without having to work from afar. I want more for Homer than just destination weddings and Summer BnB’s. I want industry and innovation. Homer has the potential, but its limited by a local mindset that wants to keep Homer small. The world around us is expanding rapidly, and I will not keep Homer locked in time. You should know that before you vote for me. I say “Forward to the Future.”

So what about you, dear reader? Will you join me?

One-year seat

Jason Davis

This past summer a Homer city councilmember resigned unexpectedly, and I was appointed to fill the vacant seat until a new election could be held.

My time on the council so far has been a whirlwind of regular meetings, special meetings, worksessions and Committee of the Whole discussions. Last week we convened as a Board of Adjustment to consider appeals to earlier decisions taken by the Planning Commission. During this time I have learned an incredible amount about what’s going on in our city in one-on-one conversations with our outstanding city administrators, including City Manager Rob Dumouchel, Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins, Public Works Director Jan Keiser, City Clerk Melissa Jacobsen, and Community Recreation Manager Mike Illg.

The matters we have taken up in our council meetings have been ones that will loom large in the months and years ahead, particularly our effort to secure federal funding for a new community/recreation center at the site of the HERC, as well as for a significant expansion of the harbor. We took steps to restructure the finances of Homer’s water and sewer utilities to make them fully transparent and self-sustaining, and to minimize the need for rate increases down the road. I spoke in favor of a mechanism for distributing excess revenue collected to users of the water and sewer system.

One subject that interests me greatly but which I have not yet had a chance to discuss at council relates to Homer’s zoning ordinances. My service on the Planning Commission convinced me that these policies are overdue for an update, and I am eager to explore with fellow councilmembers, city staff, and the public what might be possible in this regard.

I have been honored to serve on the council, and I am asking for your vote so that I can finish out the term of the seat to which I was appointed.

I believe I bring a unique perspective to the table. I grew up on the Kenai Peninsula (Kasilof and Soldotna), and have vivid childhood memories of selling blueberries and cranberries to Alaska Wild Berry Products and catching king and Dungeness crab from a small boat in Kachemak Bay back when that was still possible. I spent over 20 years working in the federal government, including six years managing budgets, programs and personnel at two U.S. diplomatic posts overseas. Last year I opened a small manufacturing and retail business on Main Street in Homer. As a small business owner I am fiercely dedicated to encouraging and protecting all our small enterprises, which are the lifeblood of our local economy.

I care deeply about this community — my spouse works at the library and we have three kids in local schools (WHE and Homer High) — and I have the energy, the motivation and the time to work with other council members, city staff and the public to find solid, common-sense solutions to the challenges we face. Every vote counts, and I hope I can count on your vote on October 5!

Heath Smith

The appeal of calling Homer home lies in deep seeded roots that largely don’t reflect today’s reality for me. But, as I look back on picking coal and splitting wood to stay warm, hauling water, digging outhouse holes, set netting off of Joy Posts place on Kachemak Dr for a winters keep of salmon, and all that a kid could ask for in an adventurous childhood, I can’t help but appreciate how I still see Homer through those youthful eyes.

While Kachemak Bay and the Kenai Mountains present a breathtaking scenic scape it is ultimately the people who live here that make Homer as special as it is.

It’s been an absolute honor working on behalf of our community, and I’d like to continue in that effort.

To that end I’d like to ask for your continued support in the upcoming election.

Let’s get that community center built!!

Donna Aderhold

Donna Aderhold

Shelly Erickson

Shelly Erickson

Heath Smith

Shelly Erickson

Jason Davis

Shelly Erickson