City Council Candidate Profile: Shelly Erickson
Shelly Erickson has lived in Homer most her life and owns businesses here. She and her husband started Home Run Oil, which includes the Home Run ShortStop Tesoro. She also owns Homer Tours, including Baycrest RV Park. Erickson has served on the Homer Economic Development and the Planning commissions. In addition, she served on the city’s Lease Committee. She’s one of three candidates running for two seats on the Homer City Council. Incumbent Gus VanDyke and Bryan Zak are not running again, though Zak is running for mayor.
Erickson is proud of her local roots. She was born and raised in Homer. Erickson went to college at Northwest College in Kirkland, Washington, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in music. She then married, moved to Wrangell, Dutch Harbor and then back to Homer, where she settled and had children.
She says her grandfather arrived in Homer from the Pacific Northwest around 1919 to work in the Saltry in Halibut Cove, and moved to Homer a few years later.
“The little Herrington Cabin at the Pratt Museum actually housed my dad’s family for the first two weeks that they were here in Homer. And Sam Pratt is my great uncle,” Erickson said.
Family is a high priority for Erickson, who says one of her biggest concerns is affordable housing and year-round employment opportunities for future generations. She has three grown children and four grandchildren living in Homer.
As a long-time Homer resident, business owner and property owner, Erickson says she would bring a long-range perspective to the council and represent those with investments in the community.
Erickson says she considers herself a conservative moderate and someone who can bring people on different sides of the aisle together.
She says she wants to bring her city commission and committee experience to the council. She has served as chair of all three over a nine-year period.
If she were to win a council seat, she says her biggest concern would be ensuring that the city remains on good financial footing.
“I think we need to be really careful that we do not outspend what we have. As a property owner, I personally have felt that I carry the burden — tax burden — and I want to see my taxes — property taxes plus the sales tax that we put into here — actually be managed in a very prudent way so we can continue forward and not go in the hole at a time when there is not a whole lot of money out there rolling around,” Erickson said.
Erickson says the city needs new revenue sources, but taxation would be her last resort. Instead, she proposes raising funds through user fees for some services provided by the city.
“I think that the library is one of those things that having a user fee is more than appropriate for those people that live outside of Homer proper. I watch visitors come in, ‘Oh, the library, it’s free,’ and they look for places to go that it’s free so that they don’t have to contribute to what’s going on. You know, I hate to say it, but maybe for a time we need to do that,” Erickson said.
Erickson supports expanding the port and further development of South Peninsula Hospital. She does not support expansion of the new marijuana industry beyond the established commercial zone at this time. She does not support the proposed bond to build a new public safety building.
Erickson says she would do all she could as a council member to advocate for education funding. She adds that Homer youth need more opportunities that link them to careers.
She supports city incentives for builders to construct more affordable housing.
Erickson says she supports the sustainable development of natural resources and positive change for the future.
“You know, I remember when Pioneer Avenue was potholes and gravel, when we did not have a lot of different things and it was always a little shaky trying to make it through and for progress — because there were people who did not want the progress. And I have been for progress and wanting us to move forward in a really positive way,” Erickson said.
Erickson says that during her time on the planning commission, she became aware of concerns about how the watershed boundaries are impacting property owners. She hopes to address the issue if she is elected.
“And so I’d like to see a little bit more fairness come to those property owners, a way for those property owners who are not able to use their land to sell it and get their money back out of it, and then it will all become part of the watershed so we do keep our source of clean water there,” Erickson said.
One other issue Erickson says she hopes to address is homelessness. She says the city of Homer needs to take the lead on a creative solution, perhaps involving existing service organizations and churches.
“I think it is really critical that we see the value in those people and make sure that there is a place of safety for them, that is not like having to go to the ER and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars at the hospital to take care of our homeless people,” Erickson said.