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New District 9 Assemblyman Settling In

Assemblyman Mike Tupper

Tupper says he's enjoying his new duties.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assemblyman for the Southern Kenai Peninsula has been on the job for a couple of months now. Mike Tupper was elected in October to the doughnut-shaped District 9 that surrounds, but does not include, Homer, and says he’s been getting up to speed with his new responsibilities.

“It is a lot of information to kind of absorb initially. There's just a lot of stuff to learn about in terms of just how everything functions and, and who does what and where to go and all that. But yeah, it's been a couple months and I'm feeling like I'm getting my feet underneath me. It's, it's an interesting process when you start something like this because it's not like you, it's not like a job where somebody says, hey this is, you know, how you do this job. It's a job where you're kind of expected to know the job, so it's on you to figure it out,” Tupper said.

Tupper was elected in a three-way race to replace former Assemblyman Willy Dunne, who was restricted from running again due to term limits.

Tupper said there are a couple of issues coming up before the assembly which have generated a lot of public comment. The first is dealing with grand juries.

There was a lot of writing campaign about what's gonna be on the meeting next Tuesday, Is this resolution about allowing Alaskans to bring cases to grand juries essentially, is what it's about. And there was, there's a pretty substantial writing campaign for that. We got a lot of emails about it the whole assembly did,” Tupper said.

The other is the return of the gravel pit debate.

“It's something that was really hotly debated before, and then set down and so, it coming back up is got me doing a lot of research on you know, what went down before and, and what everybody’s complaints were or issues and how we might be able to work with everyone, so that we can have something that comes out of the changes that we make to the, to the code. So that everybody is at least walking away with something,” Tupper said.

The assembly is also considering tax credits for a solar energy company, but that’s been getting resistance from the borough mayor.

“They're asking for a little bit of a break on some of the property taxes on the improvements they plan to make, because they plan to do something very very big and just having to pay property taxes on a lot of expensive equipment. They're worried It won't, it won't make for them being able to offer lower rates to HEA in the way that they would need to, to be successful in that way. So ongoing, you know, conversations about that and just what, what makes sense for us as a borough, to try and incentivize that and if it does make sense,” Tupper said.

Tupper said representatives from Homer Electric Association will address the assembly on the solar farm topic during its first meeting in February.

Jay Barrett, KBBI's new News Director should be a familiar voice to our listeners. He's been contributing to Kenai Peninsula news for the last three years out of KDLL Kenai, and was the voice of The Alaska Fisheries Report from KMXT for 12 years. Jay worked for KBBI about 20 years ago as the Central Peninsula Reporter at KDLL.