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Janette Bower to start as Soldotna city manager in May

Janette Bower.jpg
Courtesy of Janette Bower
Janette Bower is currently the city manager of Seward.

Janette Bower has accepted the position of city manager of Soldotna and will start on May 15, according to the city.

Bower has been city manager of Seward since May 2021. Her contract with Soldotna is for a three-year term, through May 2026.

She’ll replace current city manager Stephanie Queen, who has been on the job since 2018 and decided in December not to renew her contract for another term.

Bower did not respond to an immediate request for comment on her new role with the city. Last month, the Soldotna City Council voted to approve her for the position, beating out three other finalists for the position following a three-month long search.

According to her contract, provided in the city council's March 8 meeting packet, Bower will oversee the city with a starting salary of $165,000 plus benefits. She could receive a salary increase after six months, then again during annual performance evaluations, according to that contract.

The city will provide Bower with health and workers compensation insurance and retirement benefits through the Public Employees Retirement System. She’ll get 40 hours of administrative leave and then 80 hours per year each year after that, and will have access to a $500-per-month car allowance and $5,000 relocation stipend. That stipend would be repaid in the event that Bower does not stay in the job longer than two years.

After her term expires, Bower and the city could extend her term for another two years. The city can terminate its employment agreement at any point, for any reason, following a majority vote, according to the contract. Bower, in turn, could end her contract with the city with 60 days written notice.

Before coming to Seward, Bower was a city administrator in Wadena and Menahga, Minn., and clerk in Palmer and Bethel for over a decade. Soldotna Mayor Paul Whitney said last month one of the main reasons for choosing Bower for the job was her Alaska experience.

Seward to fill top seat

Bower's last day with Seward is May 10.

Her new job means another vacancy for Seward's city government. The city's last full-time manager was fired by the city council, which, at the time, would not give a reason for the termination. Before that, it had a revolving door of acting and interim managers.

Seward Mayor Sue McClure said one problem in the past has been that city employees have had a hard time finding housing. This May, Seward voters will decide whether to change the residency requirement for the city manager position to allow them to live just outside city limits, where there could be more options. That question will be on the same ballot as a decision to sell the city-owned electric utility to Homer Electric Association.

The next Seward City Council meeting is March 28. McClure said the council at that meeting will start talking about advertising for the position.

This story has been updated with a photo of Janette Bower.

Sabine Poux is the news director at KDLL. Originally from New York, she's lived and reported in Argentina and Vermont, where she fell in love with local news. She covers all things central peninsula but is especially interested in stories related to energy and fishing. She'd love to hear your ideas at