Kimberly Ketter moved to Homer in May 2015 from her hometown of Cranberry Township, Pa., looking for a fresh start.
Following a painful custody battle which ended with limited rights to see her son, Ketter moved to Homer to live with a family friend who had retired and moved into a house on West Hill. In addition to giving her the chance to gain a handle on her life and find her career path so when she could see her son, she would be more stable, she was able to help the friend with the upkeep of his house.
Three candidates — Ketter, Shelly Erickson and Tom Stroozas — are running for the two seats open on the city council. The two candidates with the highest number of votes will win those seats. Incumbent Gus VanDyke and Bryan Zak are not running again, though Zak is running for mayor.
Ketter wishes to serve on the city council as someone with no interests in any particular business or industry, but as someone who can relate to the average Joe in Homer, she said.
“I got a passion for politics, serving people and serving Homer so it can flourish,” Ketter said. “I represent the average, ordinary, everyday person who doesn’t have personal gains and interest in tourism in Homer except for how it affects the community as a whole. … I’m a voice for some who are too timid to speak up about certain things.”
While living in Pennsylvania, she served on the Democratic board in 2012, but gave up the seat when personal struggles were taking too much of her attention. She enjoys serving others, even in an informal capacity, and has helped people get through the paperwork to receive Social Security benefits, she said.
Since coming to Homer, she has worked as a fish processor at the Auction Block and also in social media marketing for companies back in Pennsylvania. Her goal was to finish her social work degree, which she is unsure she whether she will do at this point, and to write a memoir about her life and the difficulties she faced growing up in an alcoholic family living in a trailer park. She was often made to feel less than others because of her background, she said.
“I always thought I would work at a newspaper. I had articles published in middle school and I published poems,” Ketter said. “That’s something I’ve been chasing. This book will fulfill a goal.”
After graduating high school, Ketter spent a year in college and then joined the Navy and was stationed in San Diego, Calif. She was discharged from the Navy after being charged for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2004, however, and went back home, she said. She worked in the post office, as a server, and in social media marketing.
Ketter has received two more DUIs since her first, once in 2006 and the other this year in Homer. She did not drink for many years before her most recent DUI, she said, and after the incident considers herself a recovering alcoholic. When she went to file as a candidate for the city council seat, she was arrested on an outstanding warrant at the courthouse. The warrant was related to her DUI, she said.
While out on bail, she helped a friend fix a mast on a ship without the presence of her third-party custodian. The warrant resulted from this violation, and she said she posted on social media that she would be at the City Hall filing for the seat because she intended to turn herself in for the transgression. Ketter has since pleaded guilty and served her time for the DUI so that she could be finished with the business and be able to campaign for city council.
“People may look down on that but that makes me a real person with issues like anyone else,” Ketter said.
Ketter wants to help the city come further in tackling the drug problem, which she noticed was prevalent when she moved here. Homer is in need of a rehabilitation center and a halfway house so addicts can receive treatment in their own community, she said.
Throughout her personal and professional life, she has learned that everyone has individual needs, strengths, weaknesses and boundaries, she said.
“Everybody’s feelings are valid. I always make a point to say that to others,” Ketter said. “Even groups, people like to act like they are less than and their feelings don’t matter.”
Anna Frost can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.