Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 12:52 PM on Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Borough Assembly District 9
    Incumbent: Mako Haggerty

Stream protection, fire station, solid waste among the important issues

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer

Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly District 9 could be called the Alaska of assembly districts. Stretching from Gore Point to the northwest tip of Tustumena Lake and wrapping around Homer and Kachemak City, it includes the south shore communities of Kachemak Bay. In the 2009 election, water taxi owner and operator Mako Haggerty used his knowledge of the bay to boost him to the top of a three-candidate field. He's looking to do that again in a bid for re-election to a second three-year term.

"There are areas of my district that I feel I'm in a unique position to better represent than other people, places like Nanwalek, Port Graham, and Halibut Cove, just because I spent a lot of time on Kachemak Bay," he said. "I have a working knowledge of their concerns and issues."

Mako Haggerty


Mako Haggerty

Residence: Homer

Age: 58

Occupation: Owner and operator, Mako's Water Taxi

Children: Max and Lance Haggerty, both grown

Length of residency In Alaska: 30 years

Education: one year of college

Political and government experience: Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member, 2009-present

Business and professional positions: commercial fisherman

Service organizations membership: former member KBBI Board of Directors, former member, Kachemak Bay Citizens Advisory Board

Email: mako@xyz.net

Big as District 9 might be, it's also one of the more culturally mixed, and one of the few that includes towns not on the road system.

"It's the most diverse," Haggerty said. "I'm happy that it's my district, because we've got the Russian villages, we've got Fritz Creek, Diamond Creek and all the communities across the bay."

A 30-year lower peninsula resident, Haggerty has worked as a commercial fisherman and salmon tender and started and runs Mako's Water Taxi. He's raised two sons, twins Lance and Max, now grown and in their 20s. Before serving on the assembly, he volunteered for organizations like KBBI Public Radio, the Kachemak Bay State Park Citizens Advisory Board and Friends of Kachemak Bay State Park. Recently, Haggerty was active in the Sea Party and co-sponsored the citizen's initiative that put Measure 2, the Coastal Zone Management Plan, on the August primary ballot. While Ballot Measure 2 failed statewide, it had strong support in Homer voting precincts.

Haggerty said he's running again to take advantage of what he learned in his first term. Understanding borough government takes a while, and with that knowledge he said he thinks he can better serve his district.

"I felt like someone had put me through school," Haggerty said. "I kind of owe it to return."

He points to anadromous stream habitat protection as one of his biggest accomplishments. With assembly member Bill Smith, who represents Homer and Kachemak City, Haggerty sponsored and the assembly approved protections for smaller salmon streams similar to those for the Kenai River. He said he understands why property owners might object to restrictions on creek side lands, seeing that as an infringement on private property rights.

"I think people are in favor of protecting salmon streams. I don't think there's any question about that," Haggerty said. "Salmon is a public property. The water is a public property. It's where the two come together where that conflict arises."

Stream protection is part of why he wants to serve another term, Haggerty said.

"I think it's a living document," he said. "There are going to be adjustments and changes to it. It's something I'd like to be around for when those changes are made."

Issues important to Haggerty are getting a fire station for the west side of the Kachemak Emergency Services area and dealing with solid waste. With the upcoming completion of the Homer transfer station, household waste will be trucked north to the central peninsula landfill.

"I think we're going to have to take a second and long look at the way we deal with our solid waste around here," Haggerty said. "I think that waste stream can be greatly reduced — greatly reduced."

He suggested more emphasis and education on recycling. With a recent boom in salvage companies collecting scrap steel and old cars and storing it on the Homer Spit for eventual transport, Haggerty said he didn't see why that couldn't be done for other recyclable items like cardboard, glass and aluminum as scrap companies wait for markets to change.

"If we have an area to store it or stash it, it may come to where it's a benefit to us," he said.

Issues he hears from citizens include higher property taxes, roads and schools.

Haggerty and his opponent, Anchor Point business owner Jesse Clutts, both have run a civil campaign. Haggerty said he doesn't know Clutts that well. The main difference might be in their knowledge of their local communities, he said.

"We might be a little more aware of different areas within District 9," Haggerty said. "Jesse's probably a little bit more aware of what's happening up in the Anchor Point, North Fork, even Nikolaevsk area."

One thing they do have in common is their desire to serve the lower peninsula, Haggerty said.

"This is virtually a volunteer effort on both our parts," he said. "Anybody who steps up to the plate should be commended. I'm not looking for that for me, but definitely hand that to anybody who steps up."

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

I think we have a very workable system. Our taxes here are equitably distributed between property taxes and sales tax. Other boroughs in Alaska place, what I believe, is an undue burden on property owners by not enacting a sales tax.

I would like to see a more fair and equitable distribution of some of the fees and taxes that the State collects and I would like to be able to fund some of the non-departmental services through other revenue sources.