Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 5:38 PM on Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Zak: City can help create climate for success

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff writer

Elected to the Homer City Council in 2008 and with two years service on the city's planning commission, Bryan Zak is running for mayor "so I can provide a little bit of leadership as to the future of the community," he said.

Bryan Zak


Bryan Zak

Occupation: director, Small Business Development

Spouse: Karen

Alaska resident: 14 years

Homer resident: 7 years

Education: Bachelor of arts in business administration, Pepperdine University; counseling, master, Eastern Washington University

Political and governmental experience: city of Homer council member, 2008-present; city of Homer Planning Commission, 2006-2008; U.S. Air Force retired

Business and professional positions: Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Examiner, 2010-2012; assistant district governor, Rotary District 5010, 2010-present; Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District Board of Directors, 2010-present

Service organization memberships: Homer United Methodist Church; Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies board of directors; Kachemak Bay Rotary Club

Contact: (907) 223-6681 or bryanzak@aol.com

Interested in strengthening partnerships between the city and its residents, Zak said, "We can do a better job listening to the many voices within the community to actually work together for the future and to think not so short-term, but also long-term."

Zak believes Homer is in for some changes.

"We have some real interesting things happening in this next year that'll set the stage for the next 30-40 years," he said. "The natural gas pipeline is going to be a real game-changer for everyone in Homer and the surrounding area."

As an example, he suggested reduced energy costs resulting from the availability of natural gas might lead to reduced water and sewer rates within the city.

He also noted the capital campaign of the Pratt Museum, which operates as a nonprofit organization, and used the museum, as well as the Boys and Girls Club and the Kevin Bell Ice Arena to illustrate the role he believes nonprofits play in the community.

"I look at nonprofits as important as business because they're providing money for jobs and bringing money into the economy," said Zak. "We need to break down the walls between the city and those organizations and find ways to partner. ... We have to create a team relationship because it takes so much to create an effective, vibrant economy for our community. Not just an economy, but everything about why we live and choose to work here in Homer. I think we'll see big changes in the near future."

He also named the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center as "another opportunity to work together to create good things for the community."

Among his accomplishments, Zak pointed to his support of the oil and gas line since the discussions about bringing natural gas to Homer began.

"One of my biggest contributions is just showing the support that goes along with it, not ever wavering," he said. "I've written letters to the governor and Paul Seaton and other legislators. In Juneau, the city manager, the mayor and myself all communicated we were in support of it, which was very important in obtaining it (funding) in the third year."

Asked about mayoral candidate Beth Wythe's strengths and weaknesses, Zak said, "Her strengths are definitely that she runs a tight ship with a conservative budget, but that's probably her weakness also. In these times when you are able to make some capital improvements and take advantage of interest rates, there are opportunities we're missing."

He pointed to upgrades needed for the HERC, Homer Education and Recreation Complex, building and the city's missed opportunity by not taking advantage of "historically low interest rates to make major capital improvements to that building."

Losing the legislative support of Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, due to redistricting was unfortunate for Homer, said Zak.

"But we've gained Peter Micciche," he said of the newly elected senator from Soldotna. "He's already been down to Homer numerous times. I think we'll see good representation."

The list of issues Zak thinks are facing the city is long, beginning with the natural gas line and including improvements to and use of the HERC, the city's capital improvement list, maximizing the revenue from the port and harbor and the city's sales tax.

"When people can go to Anchorage and pay no sales tax, it takes money away from our own economy. That's something I'd like to see in the future, drawing down the sales tax with more encouragement to support local businesses."

From voters, he hears concerns about trails, roundabouts, stoplights, water and sewer rates, signage, code enforcement and making it easier to do business in Homer.

As far as the role of city government, Zak believes it is to provide core services.

"It also is to create opportunity for businesses to be successful and to partner with residents, to know what their needs are, what they want to see their community be," said Zak. "That's what sets Homer apart from other communities, but there are so many other things we can do to continue to move forward, to continue to be magnificent, a unique place in all of the world."

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.