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Formal partnership strengthens collaboration between Seldovia and Homer

Seldovia Mayor Jeremiah Campbell said the community currently has just one police officer who’s on call 24/7 and also serves as chief of police for the community’s 400 year-round residents.
Hope McKenney
Seldovia is a community of about 400 year-round residents — half of whom live outside of city limits under the jurisdiction of the Seldovia Village Tribe.

Seldovia Village Tribe and the Cities of Seldovia and Homer formally established a three-way partnership at Monday’s Homer City Council meeting.

The joint resolution created an alliance between the two Kachemak Bay communities to better work together on their shared priorities.

Homer City Manager Rob Dumouchel said the partnership has been two years in the making.

“We're trying to acknowledge years of already having worked together,” he said. “We've got very interdependent communities that really need each other to get by.”

Seldovia is a community of about 400 year-round residents — half of whom live outside of city limits under the jurisdiction of the Seldovia Village Tribe. The federally recognized tribe provides healthcare in both Seldovia and Homer. They also run the ferry between the two communities.

Homer and Seldovia have worked together in recent years to advocate for the Alaska Marine Highway System and push for regional utility expansion projects. And now, after a change from the Alaska Redistricting Board following the 2020 census, both communities share representation in Alaska House District 6.

Seldovia City Manager Rachel Friedlander said the communities also regularly work together on public safety, harbor and transportation issues. For example, she said, when Seldovia has to do a prisoner or patient transport, Homer is typically involved in those services.

“So it's just thinking about ways where we can look at crossovers,” Friedlander said. “Homer and Seldovia are connected by emergency response, through our harbors, so it's looking at what are ways in which we can work together so that we can think about making more significant impacts to problems that both of us are facing.”

Friedlander said looking at things like the impacts of climate change on the two coastal communities or pushing for broadband and reliable energy together could be useful moving forward.

Crystal Collier, president and CEO of Seldovia Village Tribe, agreed with Friedlander and said the partnership will allow both communities to work in a way that’s mutually beneficial.

“Being involved with the City of Seldovia and the City of Homer is an awesome opportunity for us to be able to leverage resources, ideas, personnel, and I think there’s a lot of things that we can work together on that we haven’t even thought of yet,” Collier said.

Friedlander said there are examples of successful collaborative governance in other places like California, where local governments might make agreements to share resources like heavy equipment. Similarly, earlier this month, Metlakatla and Ketchikan came together on a power grid agreement that will help with electricity for both communities.

Dumouchel and Friedlander said Homer and Seldovia hope to also partner with other communities around Kachemak Bay, like Nanwalek and Port Graham, in the future.

In 2019, Hope moved to Unalaska/Dutch Harbor to work for Alaska's Energy Desk and KUCB — the westernmost public radio newsroom in the country. She has lived, worked and filed stories from California, New York, Bolivia, Peru, Cuba and Alaska.
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