Story last updated at 1:07 p.m. Thursday, September 19, 2002

Candidates for 3-year seats weigh in
Compiled by Carey James
Staff Writer

The following is part of a four-part series presenting answers to questions posed to candidates for Homer City Council. Answers are limited to 100 words or less. This week, the five candidates for two separate three-year terms on the council present their views.

They are listed alphabetically.

Rose Beck

Age: 61

Occupation: Licensed clinical social worker in private counseling practice at Family Solu-tions

Area of residence: Homer

What are the lessons learned from annexation?

Hopefully, we've learned that the people want to be heard in the process of government -- and not only in reference to annexation. We would benefit by creating a medium for increased public comment in addition to the public hearing process.

"Two heads are better than one" is an old adage that means that a dialogue produces new thought, new ideas, and often, a more creative outcome. It also helps individuals to feel valued and part of a process.

Given the current tight state fiscal situation, what is your philosophy on taxes, spending and the current city budget?

Given the tight state fiscal budget and the downturn in the U.S. economy, we should not increase taxes at this time, as that would unduly stress already stressed pocketbooks. Rather, I would support further conservative spending, increased efforts to secure grants and endowments for specific projects, and even fees for services at some point.

Given all the projects the city has on its plate (library, animal shelter, water and sewer expansion) what would your top priorities be?

Top priority is delivery of water and sewer to all Homer citizens (including the annexed areas).

This is a basic quality-of-life issue related to health and safety.

The library and animal shelter are running parallel paths and could both happen simultaneously if all the pieces fall into place regarding site selection and funding. These are both quality-of-life projects that relate to our well-being.

How can the Homer City Council make Homer a better place to live?

Homer is already a better place to live. We have an amazing list of assets to be proud of, including: a well-running delivery system of basic city utilities and services; a port and harbor system with new structures and continued growth in the maritime trades; 53 nonprofit organizations that provide an infrastructure of services to the community; and a whole city of folks who have tried to make this a good place to live.

Our task as a city council will be to help us find more ways to let the rest of Alaska know how great this community is.

Charles Davis Jr.

Age: 66

Occupation: Retired jack of all trades

Area of residence: Bishop's Beach

What are the lessons learned from annexation?

It is very expensive to annex property and people who are unwilling to be annexed. Expensive in time, money and community togetherness.

Given the current tight state fiscal situation, what is your philosophy on taxes, spending and the current city budget?

My philosophy on taxes are that they shouldn't be any higher than they need to be to run the government as efficiently as possible. However they need to be high enough to properly fund the necessary new projects and additions that are required by a growing city. The key policy in this endeavor is to fully fund depreciation. My philosophy on city spending is that it should be no more than is necessary to manage the city's affairs in the most efficient and financially conservative way.

In general, I believe there are ways that the city's services can be streamlined.

Given all the projects the city has on its plate (library, animal shelter, water and sewer expansion) what would your top priorities be?

First priority: affordable water and sewer made available to all city residents and businesses. Two: following the accomplishment of No. 1, then, making available fire, police, and paved streets to all residents and businesses would seem to be in order. Once the basic health and safety issues of the residents and businesses of the City of Homer are achieved, then the city should promote the animal shelter, the library and the museum, and any other city projects that the majority of its citizens desire to fund.

How can the Homer City Council make Homer a better place to live?

By accomplishing Nos. 1, 2, and 3 above, and to actively seek out and follow the majority of the citizens opinions, resisting the temptation to follow the wishes of a minority group or groups. And, to recognize that the answers to Homer's problems can be found in the ideas of all of its citizens, not just an anointed few.

Gary "Gil" Mayforth

Age: 42

Occupation: Home care nurse aide

Area of residence: Homer

What are the lessons learned from annexation?

It is important to do the right thing in the right way. There is a big difference between hearing what a person says and listening to what is said.

Given the current tight state fiscal situation, what is your philosophy on taxes, spending and the current city budget?

Pay the bills, buy the services needed. Be willing to identify community wants and needs, then pay for what is needed.

Given all the projects the city has on its plate (library, animal shelter, water and sewer expansion) what would your top priorities be?

Set up an emergency services commission.

How can the Homer City Council make Homer a better place to live?

Listen well, stay out of business's way, keep government at smallest manageable level.

Stanley Welles

Age: 725 months

Occupation: Aerospace engineer (Alaska Aircraft Engineering)

Area of residence: Pioneer Ave.

What are the lessons learned from annexation?

Hopefully some. Seemingly, none. I'll explain in the third question.

Given the current tight state fiscal situation, what is your philosophy on taxes, spending and the current city budget?

Perhaps your question is also quite understated? Statewide, our benefit from Sen. Stevens' efforts will be coming to a close in the not too distant future. Nationally, Sept. 11 is having a chilling effect on our national economy. To me, at least, I believe prudent local communities will learn to pay their own way.

Given all the projects the city has on its plate (library, animal shelter, water and sewer expansion) what would your top priorities be?

Prior to annexation, our income exceeded our expenses. That sounds good. But the gap between our income and our expenses was narrowing. It would not have been long before the collision of two trains -- excess spending and short income.

At annexation, Homer received a big increase in income. Unless we reduce the rate of our expenses and/or increase the rate of our income (under existing tax structure), we "in-business-as-usual" will head toward another collision.

Projects such as the proposed Town Square are nice and have a place, but not yet.

Further, disastrously indicative of our not learning anything from annexation, is the "1 percent for art" issue. I think the issue should be put up for a vote. I certainly haven't run into any majority that want it. Isn't the principle of "1 percent for art" 100 percent wrong?

We must change the rate of our income and rate of our expnses or we will have learned nothing from annexation. We do have real needs, but space doesn't allow me to elaborate here. I anticipate doing that on the Web site.

How can the Homer City Council make Homer a better place to live?

"Better," for me, is to verify that there is indeed a majority that want a given service.

Many voters have neither the time nor inclination to attend council meetings but care deeply how we spend their money.

To that end, I am building a Web site, "StanWelles.com," on which I may be asked questions. I will also be able to ask for the preference of those voters.

Michael Yourkowski (incumbent)

Age: 50

Occupation: Own and operate the research vessel Kittiwake II, Alaskabeartours.com and rentals.

Area of residence: I have lived on Kachemak Drive for the last 12 years.

What are the lessons learned from annexation?

The need to expand municipal boundaries is an inevitable consequence of community growth. That is why our state constitution has a method of dealing with it. Every annexation is controversial. I think we could have avoided some of the controversy and animosity if there had been more information dispersed about the rationale, necessity and positive aspects (such as reduced property taxes, better road maintenance) of annexation.

Given the current tight state fiscal situation, what is your philosophy on taxes, spending and the current city budget?

It is highly unlikely that the City of Homer will be receiving more money from the state, although the municipal dividend program has a real chance to pass this year. In light of that, the city must continue doing what it has for the last five years: hold the line on spending, encourage efficiency, and minimize waste.

Taxes should be as low as possible. The current city council actually lowered property taxes for this year. The budget should reflect reality, be balanced and closely scrutinized by council. We should be pursuing alternative funding opportunities through grants and legislative appropriations.

Given all the projects the city has on its plate (library, animal shelter, water and sewer expansion) what would your top priorities be?

The new library project is way out in front on the priority list. The animal shelter and sewer and water LIDs are moving forward nicely, however we have yet to even pick a site for the library nor secure adequate funding.

How can the Homer City Council make Homer a better place to live?

The Homer City Council can make Homer a better place to live by safeguarding our high quality of life, providing infrastructure for economic opportunity and assuring an efficiently run city that will keep our taxes low, our streets safe and our economy strong. Homer had the highest increase in sales tax revenue of any city on the peninsula. Seward's actually declined.

We lowered property taxes this year. We finished the Pioneer Dock project and harbor renovations, creating new opportunities for business. I think we are doing a lot of things right.

Carey James can be reached at cjames@homernews.com.

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