After more than two decades, Kachemak City, Homer’s neighbor to the east, has a new mayor. Bill Overway was chosen by his colleagues on the Kachemak City Council to take the place of Phil Morris, who chose not to run for re-election.
“I’ve got some big boots to fill,” said Overway. “(Morris) is a heck of a guy and really had the city at heart. The big thing is, he’ll be around for help and advice. That’s the one thing I’ve got going in my favor.”
Overway served on the city council five years before being chosen at mayor at an Oct. 8 meeting.
In addition to Morris, council member Tammy Ackerman also chose not to run for re-election. During the Oct. 7 election, voters chose Jeanne Walker and Mark Speakman to fill the two vacancies. With 97 ballots cast, Walker received 91 votes and Speakman received 87, according to City Clerk Helen Schoepke.
Overway has been a Kachemak City resident for more than 10 years. Prior to that, he divided his time between Anchorage and Homer. He has served on the Kachemak City Council for five years.
“I like the attitude of Kachemak City’s city government, to keep costs low,” said Overway. “It’s just a neat place to be. There’s neat people around here.”
That said, his plans as mayor include keeping things simple.
“We’ve got enough government around us the way it is,” said Overway. “We just want to keep Kachemak City going the way it has been and hope it continues.”
Speakman is one of Kachemak City’s newest residents, having moved inside the city limits from Homer a little more than a year ago. This is his first time to seek public office.
“I just want to keep the status quo. Basically, keep things running the way they are,” said Speakman. “(Kachemak City) tries to do as little as possible in some ways. They don’t come up with new rules and laws and regulations for no good reason.”
Walker is currently traveling and unavailable for comment.
Morris said after 20 years, it’s time for someone else to take over as mayor.
“We have a good council and everybody knows the game plan.,” siad Morris. “It’s time to let somebody else make it go forward. Or whatever it has to do.”
During his term as mayor, Morris said the city, with a population of about 480 residents, accomplished exactly what it said it would do.
“We pretend to tax, you pretend not to want any services. It works,” he said.
What has changed about Kachemak City is its demographics.
“We used to have an average number of kids, but we don’t have kids anymore. They’ve grown up and gone away and been replaced by retirees coming in and building fancy houses,” said Morris. “The Kenai Peninsula Borough has the oldest demographic in the sate. Homer is probably older than that and Kachemak City is the oldest of them all.”
After more than 20 years as mayor, Morris said he already has plans for using the amount of time it took him to keep the city running.
“The way I tell everybody is that the mayor’s job took about 15 minutes a week, so if I have an extra cup of coffee or an extra cup of tea one morning a week, that makes up for it,” he said. “There really is not that much going on there.”
The majority of the work to keep the city running smoothly is accomplished by Schoepke, according to both the current and former mayor.
“The real boss is (Schoepke). She’s a neat gal. Talk about a book of knowledge,” said Overway.
“She’s been there a long time and is making noise about possibly retiring the end of next year or there abouts,” said Morris. “Frankly, that’s part of the reason I decided it was time for me to go away. If Helen’s not there, I don’t want to be there. She’s the key.”
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.