Homer Alaska - Elections

Story last updated at 5:50 PM on Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Three council candidates for 2 seats bring variety of experience to table

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer


Two incumbents and one former Homer City Council member are vying for two seats opening up on the city council. Each opening is a three-year term.

Barbara Howard and David Lewis are running for re-election. Mike Heimbuch, who served on the council during 2005-2008, is the third candidate.


Mike Heimbuch

Mike Heimbuch

A 59-year Alaska resident, Heimbuch has lived in Homer for 36 of those years. A fisherman, he has been active with numerous boards and commissions including the Homer Library Advisory Board and the Homer Port and Harbor Advisory Commission, a state fish and game advisory board, the Alaska Board of Marine Pilots and the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission.

Heimbuch was appointed to the Homer City Council in April 2005, and won his bid for re-election in October of that year.

Asked why he's running for office, Heimbuch said "I want to see city council meetings be a little more lively and interesting. ... I miss the intensity of public debate and you can't participate in that as well unless you have a seat at the table."

Participating in local government is, for him, a way to have an active role in making decisions.

"I'm always surprised that people in general are not more proactive about the city business," Heimbuch told the Homer News shortly after announcing his candidacy. "We're all good at complaining when we don't get our way and very poor at being part of the process of the decision making."

While topics such as debt ceilings might not find their way to city council agendas, Heimbuch said "we have the good stuff, like harbor rates, zoning and library hours."

Looking to the future, he identified getting natural gas to Homer and the ongoing problem of adequately funding repairs for the Homer harbor.

"It's a facility bigger than we could have built out of pocket, bigger than we could have built on our own," said Heimbuch. "Now we have to find a way to keep this large enterprise as a viable chip in our local economy."

With "no burning desire to accomplish anything in particular," Heimbuch said his interest in serving on the council is primarily having the public see a more active type of discourse at council meetings. He also promises to be "a different candidate."

"I don't think of candidates as being better or worse, just different sorts," he said.


Barbara Howard

Barbara Howard

Howard and her husband, Bob, purchased their Homer residence in 2001 and became full-time residents in 2004. Howard owns Curves and, with her husband, owns a commercial fishing vessel.

Appointed to the Homer City Council in April 2008, Howard was re-elected later that year. In her hometown of Morgan Hill, Calif., she served as the city clerk, an elected position.

Locally, she has served on the South Peninsula Hospital Service Area Board and the hospital's operating board. She also has served on the city's Parks and Recreation Commission and Planning Commission, and chairs the Permanent Fund Committee and the Port and Harbor Improvements Committee.

A "passion for local government" fuels Howard's bid for office.

"When I started out in 1984 as city clerk, I remember my first meeting distinctly, standing to give the pledge and looking out at the audience, the citizens that came to that meeting and the public hearings when they got to give their diverse opinions ... and I began to realize what government was and what role I could play," said Howard. "That never left me. To this day, when I stand for the pledge, it gives me goose bumps. When I look at the audience, I can't believe I get to participate in this."

Asked what makes her the best candidate, Howard pointed to her "passion for doing the right thing, for the good of the whole."

She advocates consensus building, which she sees as essential in demonstrating trust. She defines that trust as a commitment to be guided by intentions for the good of the whole, for good public policy making.

"When we have that trust, we can speedily solve the issue at hand, and when speeding long we are generally reducing the cost of getting the work done," said Howard.

She enjoys what she describes as the "culture of inquiry," the process of understanding and being tolerant of what others are thinking.

"I want the citizens to be proud of their government," said Howard. "They trust us and we at least have to trust each other or it'll all fall apart."


David Lewis

David Lewis

Lewis came to Alaska 35 years ago and settled in Homer in 1989. After retiring from teaching in 1998, he substitute taught and cared for his two sons before becoming the assistant coordinator for the Youth Job Training Program at the Kachemak Bay Campus, Kenai Peninsula College-University of Alaska Anchorage. He has been the coordinator of that program for four years.

Lewis has been active with the Homer Hockey Association, but gave up all board and committee involvements after being elected to the Homer City Council in 2008. He currently serves on the Port and Harbor Improvement Committee.

Lewis is running for re-election "because there are some things I would like to get done," he said. With the experience gained from his three-year term in office, he believes he "can contribute more now that I've got over my rookie season."

For starters, Lewis would like to see a permanent home secured for the Homer Boys & Girls Club. The local clubhouse currently occupies space in a city-owned building near the corner of Sterling Highway and Pioneer Avenue.

Lewis also is interested in finding a way to maintain funding for nonprofits, especially those that work with area youth. Other topics in which he is concerned include having enough soccer fields to accommodate local soccer teams, keeping the Kevin Bell Arena open, ensuring the Homer High School track is repaired and supporting area trails.

Asked what makes him the best candidate for city council, Lewis said that was a question for voters to decide.

"I have certain things that I feel are important. Other people have other things they feel are important. So, it is up to the people to decide why someone is the best," said Lewis.

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