Story last updated at 1:25 p.m. Thursday, August 22, 2002

Homer City Council candidate list lengthy
by Carey James
Staff Writer

When the filing deadline passed last Thursday for the October city election, 15 candidates, including five incumbents, had signed up.

The large number of candidates is due in part to the annexation process promise of all members of the city council, with the exception of councilman John Fenske, to rerun for their seats, thus allowing those within the newly annexed territory to run.

For the race for city mayor, incumbent Jack Cushing faces another challenge by former city mayor Harry Gregoire. Gregoire, who said he decided to run because he thought "that something's broke," ran for the seat unsuccessfully in 1998 and again in 2000. He was mayor of Homer for two terms staring in 1990.

Gregoire said he found fault with the amount of money the city has been spending recently.

"We seem to be picking up some pretty hefty projects, and I think that anything as large as some of those should be OK'd by the voters," Gregoire said.

Incumbent Jack Cushing, who has been mayor since 1996, was unavailable for comment.

For the two three-year terms vacated by councilwoman Pat Cue and councilman Kurt Marquardt, five candidates have filed, including incumbent councilman Mike Yourkowski. Yourkowski was unavailable for comment.

Among the new names on the list is Stan Welles, a 10-year Homer resident who said his experience as an aeronautical engineer as owner of Alaska Aircraft Engineering has taught him a thing or two about responsibility that will carry over to city council.

"To me, the council is a service organization with a constant responsibility for someone else's money," he said. "With aircraft, you have a constant responsibility for someone else's life. So I would approach the two the same."

Welles said his high priorities are water, fire and making sure the annexed area gets "a fair shake for their financial share."

Gary "Gil" Mayforth, who lives in the newly annexed area, is also running for one of the two three-year terms. Mayforth said his 15 years as a volunteer for the Homer Volunteer Fire Department and four years as president of the board of directors of the department would contribute to his effectiveness as a councilman. While not still a firefighter, Mayforth, who has lived in Homer since around 1987, said volunteer emergency services will be on the top of his priority list.

"I look forward to the opportunity of helping my community grow," he said.

Also vying for a three-year seat is Rose Beck, who said she entered the race after contemplating her two years of experience working on the Homer Planning Commission.

"I am very intrigued with how government works," said Beck, a licensed clinical social worker with Family Solutions. "I realized we are all very ordinary people who want to make this a better place."

Beck said her 25 years experience with small business ownership and her lifetime of experience would contribute to her capacity as a councilwoman, as would her skills for team-building and mediation.

Among the issues she considers pressing are a master plan for delivery of water and sewer to the city, including the annexed areas. Local business development is also a concern, she said.

"I think what I've got to offer is common sense," she said.

Charles Davis, Jr., a three-year candidate, was unavailable for comment, as was incumbent Mike Yourkowski, who has sat on the council since 1998.

For the single two-year seat, three candidates emerged, including incumbent councilwoman Pat Cue. Cue, whose first three-year term expired this year, was unavailable for comment.

Doug Stark, a resident of the annexed area, is also running for the single seat. Stark attempted to run for a Kenai Peninsula Borough seat in 2000, but discovered he was a few hundred yards outside the district he planned to represent. Stark said he has held elected positions on the board of the Chugach Electric Association and served as city manager, finance director and city engineer for the City of Petersburg in the 70s. He said he was also the director of administration for the Anchorage Borough.

Stark, who has been a permanent resident of the Homer area for six years, said bringing reconciliation to the annexed area tops his issues list.

"A lot of things have come up and everything that comes up has an unintended consequence," he said.

Stark said he also wants to improve city economics by being more business-friendly.

Conley Croom, owner of Mobile Windshield Medic and a youth pastor with the Kachemak Bay Christian Center, said his experience with business and life in general will contribute to his effectiveness if elected.

Croom said he takes issue with what he sees as city overspending, and sees himself in line with John Fenske and Ray Kranich with regard to the budget.

"My intent is to deal with what's already on the plate," said Croom, citing projects such as the Homer Animal Shelter, which he said has been unnecessarily delayed. "We can't just keep opening up new blisters."

Croom said projects like the shelter, the proposed library and Main Street sidewalk maintenance would be high priorities if he is elected.

For the two one-year terms, incumbents Rick Ladd and Ray Kranich are running for the same seats they gave up, as both held terms that would have expired in a year. Ladd, who has spent two years on the council, said his many years as a school administrator, as well as his recent stint on the council, prepare him for the position.

"There are still a lot of good things we have to do," he said. "I'm really desirous of firming up the lease management policy."

Ladd also noted the Steep Slope Development Task Force, secondary education and a citizen survey he championed as issues he would like to continue working on.

"I would like to be able to continue to work on behalf of the community," he said.

Ray Kranich, who has served on the city council for four years and the Port and Harbor Commission for nine before that, said he hopes to return to the council to continue work with the expanded city area. Kranich, who is a lifelong Homer resident, said he considers himself a fiscal conservative, and hopes to help steer the provision of services to the new area in "a conservative, solvent manner."

"We are in this transition time," Kranich said. "There's going to be a lot of issues that we come up as to what gets paid for out of the general fund, property tax, sales tax and what gets paid for by user-fees. I think there's going to be a lot of details, and it takes a little bit of continuity in making that a smooth transition."

Alexander Clark, in contrast, does not have any experience with the political arena, but does know Homer, having grown up here.

Clark said he left town shortly after graduation, and spent 20 years in law enforcement around the state before returning last year, just in time to witness the contentious annexation debate as a homeowner in the new area.

"I don't know anything about politics, but I know about work," he said. "I figured I could complain, not say anything, or try to let my neighbors have a say."

Clark said economic development tops his list, and development of the central business district for tourism rather than more focus on the Homer Spit is one area where the town could improve.

Hank Boelter, owner of Hank's Water Company and a former police officer for the city, said he has dabbled in and out of politics. This is his first bid at an elected office, however, he said.

"If nothing else, I want to run so I can ask some good questions," he said.

Boelter is one of three candidates for the short-term seats who lives in the annexed area. He said the methods used in annexation created a divide in the community.

"I really want to get over this idea that it is them versus us," he said. "The city of Homer is a community. If elected, I guarantee that people in or out of the city will have a voice in city government."

Doris Cabana, also a contender for the one-year seat who lives in the annexed area, was unavailable for comment.