Mayoral Candidate Profile: Bryan Zak
Bryan Zak has served on the Homer City Council for the past seven years. Before that he served on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. He’s one of two candidates running for mayor. David Lewis, who serves on the Homer City Council with Zak is also running. Current Homer Mayor Beth Wythe is not running for re-election.
Before moving to Homer, Bryan Zak managed homeowners associations in Anchorage and in Wasilla. In 1998, he and his wife started a vacation rental business in Homer, and he moved here in 2004.
In addition to their rental business, Alaska Adventure Cabins, Zak is a real estate broker.
“I own Zak's reality. That's a really low-profile business itself,” said Zak.
He is also an associate state director for the Small Business Development Center in Homer.
Zak, was born in Las Vegas, Nevada, and raised in Redlands, California. He has a degree in youth agency administration from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. After graduating, he worked as a district executive for the Boy Scouts.
Then he joined the Air Force, serving from 1979 to 1998 with the Strategic Air Command.
While he was stationed at Fairchild Airforce Base in Spokane, Washington, Zak got his master’s degree in counseling and public administration from Eastern Washington University. He has finished coursework for a doctorate in education from Texas Tech in Lubbock.
During his Air Force career, Zak was stationed in Texas, Washington, Alabama and at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. He says he always tried to get stationed in Alaska, but the SAC didn’t have bases here.
Zak first visited Alaska in 1984 for a military exercise out of Elmendorf Air Force Base. He had a few days off and flew down to Homer and fell in love with the area, which eventually brought him back when he retired from the Air Force as a major in 1998.
Zak says that participating in the Alaska Municipal League, where he is on the policies and procedures committee, helps him understand the key issues facing Homer and other similar communities. That committee advocates to the state Legislature on behalf of communities.
Zak has no children but he does have a cat named Whisper. When he was younger he surfed. Today he swims laps several times a week.
One of the most important issues facing Homer City Council, Zak says, is how to spur economic development. He supports attracting new sustainable industries that provide year-round jobs in Homer.
Zak says that finding a way to expand an existing fiber optic line could help.
“The fiber optic line would be one of those things. We’ve got it, we’ve just got to find a way to get it expanded throughout the community, perhaps to business owners. I know it might be quite expensive, but if we could find one, key business to move here to Homer that would take and utilize that, then we might find that that’s then available throughout the community,” said Zak.
But, Zak says, expanding Homer’s port and harbor should be the No. 1 priority because it would create many jobs. He says the project should top Homer’s capital improvement project list.
“That would create a tremendous amount of jobs here on the southern peninsula, in Homer and beyond Homer, as well,” said Zak.
Zak also supports further development of South Peninsula Hospital and other health care industries, which he says makes sense with the area’s growing senior population and the desire of many elders to age in place.
On expanding marijuana zoning, Zak says the city needs to take a wait-and-see approach.
“We’re kind of starting on a small scale. Let’s try it, but we have not allowed it on the Spit yet. But that’s something in the future that if we get cooperation and everybody is able to get along and it works, then, certainly, it is a small economic piece to the community that may have some future,” said Zak.
Zak supports the proposed bond to build a new public safety building.
He says he would do all he could as mayor to advocate for education funding. In addition, he supports city incentives for builders to construct more affordable housing. He also supports sustainable development of natural resources in the area.
Zak says his experience and receptivity to new ideas make him the best candidate for mayor.
“My experience with the Alaska Municipal League and, in addition to that, my experience here in Homer on the council of being able to listen to people and not have a preconceived idea of how I’m going to vote,” said Zak.
Zak says that he supports the city’s funding of nonprofits because nonprofit organizations play an important role, providing services that the city does not have the capacity to deliver
Zak says his greatest strength as a mayor would be bringing people together over the tough issues the city faces in the coming years.
“As the mayor of the city of Homer, I look forward to working with the City Council and building a team,” said Zak.