Three-term Homer City Council member and Mayor Pro-Tempore David Lewis said he’s running for one simple reason.
“I thought about it for a while. I wanted to see who put their name in,” he said. “I don’t think it should be a giveaway job. I think there should be competition.”
Lewis, 62, faces fellow council member Bryan Zak in the mayoral race. The most senior members on the council, both bring extensive experience to the race. While Zak has been running a strong campaign with yard signs and advertising, Lewis has been out of the country on a tour of Mongolia and Japan.
Current Homer Mayor Mary E. “Beth” Wythe is not running for re-election. She had run in the August Republican Party Primary against Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, and John Cox, for the District 31 Representative seat, but lost to Seaton and Cox.
Before filing to run, Lewis had made plans to go overseas. In Japan he’s visiting a Japanese woman, Kayo Toyota, who lived with Lewis and his family as an exchange student with AFS. Lewis also visits Teshio, Homer’s Japanese sister city.
Born and raised in New York state, Lewis was born in Auburn, the home of William Seward, who, as U.S. secretary of state, negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia. He graduated with a bachelor of arts in special education and elementary education from the State University of New York Geneseo.
He came to Alaska in 1976 from New York to work as a teacher in rural Alaska. He taught in Golovin, Elim, White Mountain and St. George Island in the Pribilofs.
He met his wife, Lyn Maslow, also a teacher, in White Mountain. In 1989 they moved to Homer from Brevig Mission after Maslow got pregnant and they wanted to get on the road system. He and Maslow have two sons, Aaron and Robert.
Lewis had spent a lot of his summers kicking around in the Denali National Park area and wanted to go to Healy, but Lyn suggested Homer and they moved here.
In Homer, Lewis taught at Razdolna School, did a year of special education at Homer High School, then went back to Razdolna. He worked until his retirement as an intensive needs teacher at the old intermediate school — now called the Homer Education and Recreational Complex — and later at West Homer Elementary School. Lewis retired from his last job at Kachemak Bay Campus as coordinator for the youth training program. He now works part time for The Center, Homer’s community mental health agency, as an employment specialist for its job club.
Lewis first ran for city council in 2008 at the suggestion of former council member Bill Smith.
“That year I didn’t really run. I sort of walked into office because there was no opposition,” Lewis said.
He was re-elected in 2011 and 2014. Lewis said he saw running for re-election as a way to continue his education as a council member.
“You figure out that your first term is like learning what is going on. The whole deal of your second term is more getting involved,” he said.
Lewis’ third term ends in 2017. He said he’d decided not to run again after that.
“Then this popped up,” he said of the mayoral race. “I had a number of people ask me. I kept saying, no, next year would be my last year. I thought everybody needs a choice, I was just extending it a year.”
If elected to the 2-year mayoral seat, Lewis would extend his public service to 2018 and the council would appoint someone to fill out the last year of his council term. If not elected, he will finish out his term on the council, ending October 2017.
When asked why he’s most qualified to be mayor, Lewis said he didn’t know if he was more qualified than Zak.
“I definitely have different points of view,” he said. “He (Zak) seems to be more anti-cannabis where I am pro for the business aspect of it.”
He and Zak also agree on a lot of things, such as supporting a plastic bag ban. Both voted for the ban that was later overturned by a citizen referendum.
Lewis said the one thing he would like to accomplish is expanding the Homer Harbor by building the east harbor and a vessel haul-out facility. He also advocates making Homer “a four-season destination for arts and everything else without changing the small-town atmosphere.”
A strong supporter of hockey programs, Lewis said his biggest accomplishment in public service was being on the Homer Hockey Association board and helping to get the Kevin Bell Ice Arena built. He also cited helping get the Natural Gas Homer Special Assessment District created and the gas line expansion built.
“It had controversy, but in the long run it is going to be a benefit for Homer,” Lewis said.
In terms of personal accomplishment, he cited his marriage to Maslow.
“I definitely married up,” he said. “Kids and family, everything.”
Lewis said he’s learned one thing from his work in public service.
“You can’t please everyone. You try not to be hypocritical where you support one thing one day and do the opposite the next,” he said. “We always do that a little bit, but I try hard not to.”
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.