With Micciche Departing, Soldotna in Need of a New Mayor

Shaylon Cochran

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     The Soldotna City Council will meet in a special session Wednesday to declare an opening for the office of mayor, signaling the official end of Senator-elect Peter Micciche’s run in that office.

     The newly elected senator for the Kenai Peninsula is fond of saying he’s not interested in politics. The need for a younger voice in Soldotna politics is what compelled him to run for a city council seat in 2006.

     Next Wednesday, Micciche will end his second term as mayor. Speaking on the "Coffee Table" program last week, he described what he saw as a need to bring more voices into the dialogue about the present and future plans of the city.

     “One example is the Parks and Rec Commission was one demographic, it was all female, many of them didn’t have young families any longer.  Very, very active, very nice group of folks, but we put a fishing guide on that group and we put a young father that had kids in the parks and younger mothers that were involved in different things in the community and diversified that quite a bit,” Micciche said.

     Council member and Vice Mayor Brenda Hartman will serve in the interim until a special election can be held and a new mayor sworn in. Soldotna City Clerk Teresa Fahning said the Department of Justice has up to 90 days to approve a special election after the Council recognizes an opening.

     By the time the final vote is cast in that special election, Senator-elect Micciche will have been sworn in and will likely be several weeks into various committee meetings, such as the TAPS Throughput Decline committee, which he will co-chair with fellow freshman senator Mike Dunleavy from the Mat-Su Valley.

     Though the committee will deal with issues concerning pipeline production and revenues, Micciche rejects calling it an oil tax committee.

     “It’s about ‘what do we need to do for improving water and gas handling facilities on the slope to increase oil production?’ Do we have access issues, do we have permitting issues, is there state lands on the north slope that can be opened up more efficiently. (Those) are a part of the puzzle that will hopefully flatten the decline of North Slope oil (which) is in our best interest right now,” he said.

     When legislators take their oaths and the legislature gavels in on the 15th, Micciche says he’ll take the same philosophies that guided him as mayor into the senate negotiating rooms.

     “In my view, it’s not that I walk in with a philosophy that says ‘This is my philosophy, this is the platform I was elected on, I can’t bend in any way, no compromise’. My job is to get the work done that’s best for Alaskans and that means I have to reach across the aisle,” he said. Micciche didn’t support the Senate Bipartisan Coalition that had been in place in previous legislatures during the campaign. Instead, he thinks more time will be spent hearing input from all Senators.

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