Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 6:26 PM on Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dolma: Looks at unintended consequences

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer

Like others before him, James Dolma is following one of the more common paths to the Homer City Council, serving on the Homer Advisory Planning Commission and then running for election to the council. It's a natural progression. Like the city council, planning commissioners have a high-profile job and meeting packets that can be inches thick.

James Dolma


James Dolma

Age: 52

Occupation: Case manager, South Peninsula Behavioral Health Service

Spouse: Brenda Dolma

Child: Katherine Dolma

Alaska resident: 22 years

Homer resident: 22 years

Education: Bachelor of business administration, Texas Wesleyan University

Political and governmental experience: Homer Planning & Zoning Commission

Email: Jdolma@spbhs.org

Dolma, 52, was appointed to the planning commission in 2010 and reappointed in 2011. He said he didn't see the commission as a springboard for office, though.

"I just thought it would be a good time to run. I'm in a place where I can give back to my community," Dolma said. "I've been really fortunate. I live in a great community."

Born in Mobile, Ala., and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, Dolma came to Homer in 1990 after meeting a Homer woman, Linda Redmond, on a hike in Texas. She said he'd like Homer. He ran into her again on another hike in Oklahoma. She said he'd still like it. Redmond said he could stay at a cabin she had. He did, and has been here since.

Born James Burge, Dolma and his wife Brenda changed their last names after the birth of their daughter, Katherine, now 16. "Dolma" is the name of the Tibetan goddess of compassion.

Dolma has a bachelor's degree in business administration from Texas Wesleyan University.

Since living in Homer, he's worked as a fishing net maker, a wildland fire fighter, at Icicle Seafoods and, while Brenda was a teacher, a stay-at-home dad.

"She did the feeding, I did the cleaning," he said.

He now works as a case manager for The Center, Homer's community mental health facility.

When he filed to run for city council, Dolma hadn't known that council members Beth Wythe and Bryan Zak were running for mayor, a scenario that means there will be a vacancy after the election. He said he didn't run to get a leg up on being appointed should he not win in the election — although that wouldn't be so bad, he joked.

"It would mean I would only have to serve two years instead of three," Dolma said.

Of city issues, Dolma said from his end he doesn't see anything specific.

"I don't really have an agenda," he said. "I think there has to be a balance between growth and open space. When you can channel your growth and direct your growth, you're more likely to have the biggest win for everyone."

In looking at issues, he likes to look at the unintended consequences, he said.

"I just want to explore all the sides of it. If they're exploring the up side, I want to explore the down side," Dolma said. "Then when it comes time to vote, you get all the information on the table and you can make an informed decision."

The big issue he hears from voters is the divisiveness of politics.

"They're not talking about the local level, but the larger level," Dolma said. "How can you maintain your beliefs and still get to some kind of agreement where you can move forward?"

You don't see divisiveness on the commissions he said. Votes are divided, but not every vote is divided the same way.

"That's a good quality about Homer and the commissions," he said.

He doesn't see the national divisiveness in the council election, either.

"I don't have anything bad to say about either person," he said of Francie Roberts and Beau Burgess. "As a matter of fact, I'm impressed."

The role of government is to make a town an attractive place to live.

"If we can maintain basic services, if we can build infrastructure like schools and fire hydrants — this is going to be an attractive place," Dolma said. "In order to be good for business, you have to be good for the people who own and work for the businesses."

Dolma said he thinks for commissioners and council members to do their job, it's important for people to communicate.

"Mind reading software isn't available for us," he said. "You listen to the people, take the information given to you, add it to other information, bring it to the table with all the other people, and often times you get some good decisions."