The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

City Council Candidates

What is your vision of Seward in 10 years and how would the vision be accomplished?

 


On Oct. 2, next Tuesday, City of Seward voters will elect three people to City Council for 2-year terms. Five candidates are running for the three positions. Ristine Casagranda, Marianna Keil and Jean Bardarson currently sit on the council. The LOG asked the candidates to describe their vision of Seward in the future and how the vision would be accomplished. Following are their answers.

What is your vision of Seward in 10 years and how would the vision be accomplished?

Ristine Casagranda

My vision of Seward in 10 years is a positive one. I see us living in a small community abundantly employed. There wil be a large middle class with families. I see all of our high school sports taking state, parents with jobs, a recreational building that citizens can enjoy, restaurants open in the winter, and an all around happy community that takes pride in Seward. Seward will be a place that families will see as an affordable place to raise children and find work.

There will be a hospital that will deliver babies. Seward Mountain Haven will have been discovered across the state as an affordable, most compassionate place to provide care for elders. Therefore, the beds will be full with a waiting list. We will pay only 6 percent sales tax.

Our electric utility will be owned cooperatively and have alternative sources for energy. Citizens outside of city limits will be able to vote on any local issues pertaining to them. We will have maintenance and repair funds that are strong and working towards upgrading our water, sewer, roads and sidewalks.

Businesses will be abundant and there will be a steady growth. Seward will be an easy place to start a business. Doing business in Seward will be easy.

I will accomplish this by staying involved in this precious community. I was born here and I am not planning on going anywhere. I am here for us. Please, feel free to email me rcasagranda@cityofseward.net and share your visions and approaches as well.

Marianna Keil

Seward’s natural setting is one of the most amazing in the world and we are situated in a prime spot for shipping and housing commercial fleets. To accomplish this, it is imperative that the upcoming bond package that includes initial funding for the Seward Marine Industrial Center basin enclosure pass the vote of the people. This would allow for the Alaska Regional Research vessel, Sikuliaq, various fishing fleets like the Coastal Villages vessels and other shipping companies to have sheltered moorage that is large enough to accommodate their needs. In return many entrepreneurial opportunities would open for marine related services as well as supporting existing businesses.

Currently, Seward has a diversified economy and has weathered the worst of the recession. I am heartened to see that the kindergarten has 60 youngsters in it. Seward is drawing young peo-ple here and it is important that we retain this population so that the community has young leadership, potential innovators and business owners.

The current council has been working to upgrade and maintain the aging utility infrastructure. Progress has been made but it is time to do more research into other energy opportunities. More wind turbines, geothermal, hydro are all possibilities, but it takes money.

In the long run it takes the community working together to advance any goals. The challenge is to meld visions together to find workable solutions.

Kenny Blatchford

I can see Seward being self reliant on electrical power. I see us as a leader in alternative energy sources in Alaska. I see Seward in 10 years having the most marine related businesses in the state. I see the ferry coming back to Seward. I see a bigger Coast Guard presence in the area.

I also see Seward as a meeting ground for big business retreats, conferences. I also see Seward as a winter hub for outdoor activities, skiing, snowmobiling. I see us utilizing the airport more, possibly reducing the transient tour bus activity and using the railroad more as a freight hauler. I see Seward having federal offices, as well as, state offices based here. I see a full service hospi-tal based here. We make sure year round housing is available.

The way to accomplish these goals are as follows:

1. Realizing that Seward has a limited geographical base area, we must be thinking along the lines of bringing people in to town for more than just a weekend trip. We need to make the win-ter activities friendly and cost effective enough to attract folks here all winter — skiing, snowmachining is happening now. Let’s build on these.

2. We must build up and bring together the projects that we have right now such as the Institute of Marine Science and the SeaLife Center, to attract other marine related organizations to move here.

3. Expand the Coastal Villages facilities to include more fishing industry companies, and the infrastructure to support more business and growth.

4. Get onboard with the natural gas pipeline and bring natural gas to Seward.

5. Upgrade the ferry dock to be able to bring weekly ferry service to Seward.

6. Provide incentives for a multi purpose convention center.

7. Provide incentives to attract more multi family and single family homes to be built.

8. Have multi use power generation built. (i.e .; wind, solar, hydro plants)

9. Increase lobbying efforts to bring more state and federal monies and projects.

10. Contract out some city services to the private sector.

11. Increase salmon hatchery releases in the bay.

12. Invite manufacturing companies to base in Seward

Jean Bardarson

My vision for Seward would be a vibrant year round community, with as much or more economic diversity and definitely more users to help with the advancement of our business commu-nity and quality of life.

When a community’s business sector is healthy the community is healthy. Businesses bring tax dollars and activity for a community. To develop the business sector they need to feel needed and appreciated. Seward needs to streamline its permitting process, much progress has been made in this area, but as in anything there is still room for improvement. In Seattle I learned that Fisherman’s Wharf calls transient moorage, guest moorage. Small changes like this could help make a difference to how someone feels when they enter our community. Making more land avail-able for development and privatizing when practical would help with attracting more commercial ventures to our area.

The city needs to focus on developing the harbor at SMIC and making it easier for the private sector to develop the uplands. This would include first understanding the potential users and making sure we meet those potential infrastructure needs responsibly. The city needs to keep all of this in mind as well as being environmentally responsible.

With the expansion of our existing businesses and new businesses come more users to defray the cost of living in Seward. I would like to see the development of alternative energy. More people make it feasible for the private sector to invest in Seward. I wouldn’t want to loose the small town charm of Seward but it would be nice to lower and spread out our cost of living.

I would like to see AVTEC and the University of Alaska work more closely. It would help the citizens of Alaska if you could take classes at AVTEC and also receive credit at UA for those classes if you wanted to advance your degree. This is a state issue but the benefit to Seward would be an increase in the potential students, who might not be interested in a 4-year degree at this time, but would later on. The classes that AVTEC makes available to our high school students give them a step forward towards their goals. It is also one of the attractions for the marine industry. Their employees can receive certifications and training here. AVTEC is a wonderful jewel for Seward; I would like to continue working for them in Juneau.

Seward is a wonderful community and by listening to each other and respecting our differences in a friendly way we can move forward environmentally and economically.We will all achieve success in our beautiful community we call home. What motivates me to serve on council is the opportunity to move these issues forward and to give back to the community. Thank you for your past support

Tim McDonald

I once said Seward could be the Venice of the North (i.e .; river city - cultural capital) in this newspaper about 10 years ago, the vision is still there. Historically before, and lost to the 1964 earthquake, their were a series of railroad tracks around town ending at the present SeaLife Center site, Also several large tank farms, etc. As tragic as the quake was in loss of life and property, it may have saved us from being the industrial armpit of Alaska. I am all for managed industrial growth, yet we are so much more and have evolved so much since then. Proper respect must be given for our quality of life and sustenance also. We are lacking in some inexpensive (relatively) infrastructure in several categories while we are planning hundreds of millions of dollars in spending for industry which I support, yet we must not let industrial spending overwhelm us without catching up on spending on roads, trails, green spaces, flood control and other needs. This is mostly Outside money coming in, so we have the leverage to protect our quality of life.

My vision for Seward in 10 years includes flood control, bank stabilization, dedicated emergency response, things that will reduce our risks in time of emergency. We must plan together and in tandem with all the players, except for the city proper we all basically live on two converging flood plains (Resurrection valley and Bear Lake) one entities actions on the flood plain affect others.

Next, emergency access to Seward is poor, we only have one road in and out and as shown by last week’s flood, Mother Nature can and did close the Seward Highway for a short time at Mile 3, closed Nash Road at Mile 2 and cut off Lowell Point Road for some time! There are things we can do! We can accelerate construction of relevant access project’s under emergency priority (capital projects list). Also “small” business does need some concessions by the City of Seward to remain viable economically considering our non-season for tourism during the winter and local business, high cost of overhead! Perhaps a 10 percent reduction in utility rates for “small” business would start the ball rolling, also we need to explore the possibility of perhaps expanding the city’s health care plan to local small business owners and their dependents, perhaps even registered voters and their dependents would be eligible, after all it is our hospital and we are respon-sible for the mortgage bonds! More co-payers in the pool, may even lower rates. We have a fluid population base that comes and goes with the seasons, incentives that get more people to live year round and vote are good.

There are so many other things that need addressing and can help promote Seward and preserve her ambiance that they can not all be listed and addressed here. I will list a last one that is near and dear to my heart. That being the establishment of a coastal trail across the head of the bay accessed through Port Avenue along with a comprehensive salmon management policy by the city, perhaps in tandem with the local Seward/Bear Creek Flood Control Board. For too long the city has ignored its responsibility as owner of the majority of salmon runs in Resurrection Bay to pro-tect and enhance if possible those runs for their public.

The Venice of the North, that is my vision of Seward in 10 years, we get there by working together, using common sense, ignoring our vested interest when appropriate for the common good and above all, maintaining local control of our municipal government, Seward belongs to us, the residents.

 

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