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SKP Assemblyman Wants to See Meetings in Homer Again

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The KPB Assembly did not schedule any remote meetings for this year.

Before the Coronavirus Pandemic disrupted normal life, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly used to take its meetings on the road and meet once a year in both Seward and Homer. But after that fell by the wayside during the time of Zoom video conference meetings, the remote meetings didn’t come back when the assembly resumed in-person meetings. In fact, the assembly voted to specifically exclude remote meetings when it set its 2022 calendar.

District 9 Assemblyman Mike Tupper of Anchor Point said people in the Southern Peninsula want to see the assembly meet here.

“I will tell you that I heard from a lot of people in support of meetings in Homer, and so I, based on, on that I am for meetings in Homer as a representative. I, I personally also have a little bit of a background in, I worked in the IT department for a little while so I can appreciate the value of video conferencing and the value that that brings and I can understand that the clerk's office wouldn't want to take the show on the road. All those things I see is valid but I also see, you know, people in these remote communities saying, hey we want representation, and it's just not equal that, you know, representation in person versus over the video. I mean, I've heard a lot of people say that,” Tupper said.

Tupper said it’s difficult to be persuasive over a video chat.

“I'm hoping to work out something with Lane who's a representative from District 8, where maybe we'll do something instead of the borough assembly traveling to Homer. So, more to come on that, I'm not sure exactly what it's going to look like but we've, we've talked about how we might be able to still try and meet the needs of the people in Homer even though the assembly decided not to travel,” Tupper said.

And though it’d be easy to think that video conferencing would make it easier for the assembly to travel, Tupper says it would still be a complicated process.

“I think part of that is because as a Borough, we're not exactly paperless. So, you know, it's still the case that, you know, people have offices in a building there and they're, you know, people who do work there. So I'm I, I understand where you're coming from and I wish that, that's where we were headed to where we, we have everything available electronically we could, you know, theoretically have meetings wherever we needed to have them. You know, I’m also, you know, serving on the board for Sprout family services and our board meetings have been virtual for the last two years. Just, I mean, we haven't even talked about meeting in person again because it's, it's met our needs, you know, it's just been, it'll be nice to see people in person again. I look forward to it, but it hasn't been a requirement,” Tupper said.

When asked what he thought about the assembly chambers recent remodel, which puts assembly members in two rows, Tupper said there’s more room for the members than it appears on a video stream, and it doesn’t feel like assembly members in the second row are hovering right over him.

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.