On a recent walk through town I passed the bumper sticker “Wag More Bark Less.” I’ve always liked that sentiment, and while I walked I considered what the phrase means to me. It led me to thoughts of the role of mayor in Homer. As the one who facilitates council meetings, I believe the more open and engaged the mayor is, the better the possibilities for council discussion and deliberation. When we wag, the gesture says we are open to new ideas. When we bark, the ideas of others are drowned out.
I am running for mayor to encourage the expression of Homer’s many perspectives in city council decision-making through respectful discussion. My vision is for city council chambers to be a safe space for public discourse, and as mayor I would preside over meetings with this intent. I would fully welcome everyone to express themselves because it’s our community’s diversity that gives us strength.
Throughout my career I have led teams and managed projects, from conducting wildlife and wetlands field work in remote locations around the state to preparing the environmental impact statement that allowed the Point Thomson Project on the North Slope to move forward. I recognize that people want to be heard, which happens when their expertise is valued, their contributions are acknowledged, and they gain opportunities to expand their abilities. A good leader isn’t the smartest person on the team; she is the person who recognizes the strengths of team members to complete the task at hand better than any one person envisioned. I believe so strongly in gaining collaborative leadership skills that I invested 18 months in a program focused on facilitating meaningful conversations that lead to tangible results through deep learning and empathy for different viewpoints. The program included significant exploration into topics of equity and sustainability that I believe will be beneficial as mayor.
As a council member, I represent the city council on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance Committee. I’m pleased with the work of this committee to develop a transition plan and take the first steps toward bringing city facilities into compliance with ADA. I also represented the city council on the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s Election Stakeholder Group in 2019. That group, which included representatives from across the borough, evaluated methods to make independent voting accessible to all registered voters. I have taken a lead on reinvigorating the city’s Climate Action Plan and took a lead role in establishing the HERC task force and working to resolve issues related to area residents’ interest in a multi-use community center. I also helped craft the CARES Act program policies that are injecting more than $5.5 million directly into the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I’m particularly proud of my small role in realizing construction of the new police station. Council was deadlocked on numerous project issues after two separate task forces failed to provide a viable solution. As mayor pro tempore I worked with the city manager to develop a plan for an off-site facilitated worksession that allowed council to work through the topics that blocked us and reach compromise. Following that worksession, every vote taken regarding the police station was unanimous. The end result is a modern police station and jail that will serve our community for the next half century and beyond. I believe all councilmembers are pleased with the outcome and the contributions we each made in the final decisions.
The office of the mayor is where the public and local government overlap and I look forward to being your mayor. Let’s work together to create the city we want.
Donna Robertson Aderhold is in her second term on the Homer City Council and is running for Homer Mayor.