Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Roberts: Wants to shepherd some key projects to finish line

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer

Standing for re-election, incumbent Homer City Council member Francie Roberts said she wants one more time on the council to finish some projects she sees as important — and her council experience to help make that happen.

Francie Roberts


Francie Roberts

Age: 60

Occupation: Teacher

Child: Luke

Alaska resident: 40 years

Homer resident:40 years

Education: Master of Science, Montana State University, Bozeman; Bachelor of Arts, education, Kachemak Bay Campus, Kenai Peninsula College, University of Alaska Anchorage

Political and governmental experience: Homer City Council 2006-present; Homer Transportation Advisory Committee 2007-present; Homer Library Advisory Board 1994-1998

Business and professional positions: Teacher Kenai Peninsula Borough School District 1994-present; National Weather Service 1972-1990; Twitter Creek Ranch 1975-1994

Service organization memberships: KBBI Public Radio Board 2004-2011; Friends of the Homer Public Library - Member; Cook Inlet Keeper - Member

Email: roberts2@alaska.net

"I have of couple of things I want to see through to the end, one of the major things being the gas line," Roberts said. "I feel there's a learning curve. I know and understand a lot of the issues."

She also mentioned a public safety complex, a Skyline Drive fire hall and a Public Works building expansion as projects she'd like to see done.

Originally from the Chicago suburbs, Roberts moved to Homer from Fairbanks in 1972 to take a transfer position as a meteorological technician with the National Weather Service. Roberts and former husband Pete Roberts lived on an 800-acre homestead, Twitter Creek Ranch, beyond the end of Ohlson Mountain Road. She and Roberts have one son, Luke, an astrophysicist.

After her divorce in 1991, she moved to downtown Homer and switched careers from ranching and the weather service to teaching. She was one of the first bachelor of arts graduates from Kachemak Bay Campus, getting a degree in education with a minor in mathematics. She also has a master of science in mathematics from Montana State University, Bozeman.

That background helps in her job on the council, Roberts said.

"I've lived here a long time," she said. "I'm aware of issues from outside the city perspective and inside the city perspective."

Roberts also worked for South Peninsula Women's Services, now Haven House, as a counselor for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. She also has taught algebra at KBC and teaches a weather course for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary's boating safety class.

In her two terms, Roberts cites several accomplishments.

"The climate action plan — I've very pleased we were able to enact that," she said of the plan that addressed how to reduce energy use by the city through conservation and efficiencies. "We're saving money for the city."

She also mentioned getting both the Homer Spit and Homer Comprehensive Plans revised and passed. During a time of declining revenues and budget challenges, Roberts pointed to how she helped accomplish that basic function of the council: passing a budget.

"I'm really happy we've been able to provide essential services to the city during that time, and in a way that wasn't too painful," she said.

The balance between essential services like police, fire protection, the harbor, sewer and water, and roads and what Roberts calls "quality of life" services remains a challenge.

"The priority when I look at the budget process, the essential services are what should be funded first," she said. "If we have extra money, the quality of life things are what should be improved."

"Quality of life" projects include things like expanding the city trail system, such as the Spit Trail and the Kachemak Drive nonmotorized path, and improving parks, like Karen Hornaday Park, she said.

Finding that balance in terms of financing as well as what government does raises challenges.

"When citizens come to you, they want you to subsidize the hockey program. That same person says 'We want no government.' It's a delicate balance," she said. "How much government do you want? You want government to step in with nonprofits, but you don't want government to step in with other parts?"

Roberts has been hearing from voters both for and against the thin, nonusable plastic shopping bag ban. Roberts was one of four council members to vote for a ban, vetoed by Mayor James Hornaday and up for an possible override at Monday night's meeting. She said she supported the ban because of the effect of plastic bags on the marine environment.

"We live in a community that depends so much on the ocean for our livelihood," Roberts said. "I'm not sure how to make that work perfectly. I'm not sure banning is the way to do it."

Another issue voters have talked about is finding a fair water and sewer rate schedule. It's a difficult problem because only the users pay for it but the water and sewer system is expensive.

"It definitely needs more work," Roberts said of the rate schedule.

With the gas line build out a priority over the next few months, a proposed special assessment district that would bring gas to almost every city lot might also offer opportunities to expand the water and sewer system and bring in more customers.

"It might be an opportune time," she said.