When Homer City Council candidate Shelly Erickson says that Homer is her home, her words refer to roots that go deep into past generations. Both sides of her family have been in Homer for close to 80 years.
Three candidates — Erickson, Tom Stroozas, and Kimberly Ketter — 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.
As she runs for one of the two seats available on the city council, she thinks of future generations who she hopes also will call Homer home as well.
“I want my grandchildren to be able to grow up here and have a place that they can live and they can support themselves without having to go away and do that, which I think is important,” Erickson said. “That’s probably one of my biggest motivations. I’ve been thrilled to watch my kids’ generation coming back here now and raising their kids. I just want to make sure, that’s what I want to see that we have a place that’s affordable for us to all live in.”
Erickson counts raising her three children — Jonathan, Jessie and Olivia — with husband Jeff Erickson as one of her biggest personal accomplishments. All three of her children live in Homer, and she also has four grandsons from her son and his wife. Family is truly a priority for her. Preparations for Jessie’s wedding later this month is taking precedent over actively campaigning for the city council seat. After the late-September wedding, Erickson will focus her full attention on the debates.
“I have a wedding and they’re costly so you’re probably not going to see a whole bunch of signs. I’ll be doing the interviews and am more than willing to talk to people, but won’t really be out knocking on doors,” Erickson said. “My whole life has been service and so … I’d rather just serve and that’s what I’m here for and hopefully people know me by my reputation and what I’ve done and that will be good enough.”
Over the years, Erickson has done a mix of community and civil service, including serving as a member of the city’s economic development commission, the planning commission and lease committee, all three of which she has been a chair of as well. She has volunteered with the churches, the Homer Chamber of Commerce, and provided music for theatrical productions such as Les Miserables and Wizard of Odds.
“I kind of have my hands a little bit in it, but usually I’m just doing it in the wintertime for my pleasure, my hobby. I don’t knit, I don’t sew, I don’t crochet,” Erickson said.
Erickson and Jeff also started Home Run Oil, located about three miles out East End Road, and run the business together. They also own HomeRun ShortStop Tesoro gas station, an RV park at the top of Baycrest and Homer Tours, which Erickson calls her hobby job that allows her to get out of the office and play with the tourists in the summer.
As a business owner, she believes she can provide a necessary perspective to the city council, especially as the council members leaving the seats are conservative business owners.
“I’ve been through many, many changes in Homer and I think that it’s important that we have a good balance on the city council. I think it’s important that no people group from conservative to liberal is left out and if we get too heavy on one side or the other then I don’t think that’s good for Homer,” Erickson said.
“I think you need to have business owners on there who understand. It’s different being a business owner versus being an employee. When you’re a business owner there’s a whole weight of responsibilities … the business owner carries.”
In this time of economic uncertainty, people making decisions that will have ramifications on businesses and other parts of the Homer community need to have the ability to see the big picture. She has that ability, she said.
“I think that what I’ve noticed in this world is there’s people who make decisions about the right now … and it looks good but they can’t necessarily see the ramifications of those decisions,” Erickson said. “I like to think that I’m able to do that after all these years and the stuff I’ve done, that I can step back far enough to see where’s this is going to take us down the road.”
Anna Frost can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.