Castner and Aderhold discuss issues in mayoral race

Sep 10, 2020

Mayor Ken Castner
Credit City of Homer

Councilmember Donna Aderhold
Credit City of Homer

Homer’s municipal election is less than a month away now. On October 6, voters will decide who to send to the borough assembly, who will sit on the Homer City Council, and whether we’ll have a new mayor or not.
    On Wednesday morning's Coffee Table with host Kathleen Gustafson, Homer Mayor Ken Castner, who is seeking a second term, and the challenger for his chair, City Councilmember Donna Aderhold, were the guests.
    “I guess in a sense I'm running for reelection because I didn't get finished what I had hoped to in the two year term. There were a couple of things that came along that sucked up a lot of time, including the pandemic,” Castner said.
    “I see an opportunity to work with our new city manager, in a very collaborative way and kind of think about some visioning for where we want to be in Homer in the future and how we're going to get there,” Aderhold said.
    The pair addressed parking in their discussion, both downtown and on the Spit.
     “The spit is this very popular area to be during the summer? How do we accommodate everybody? We have people who work out there who are working on boats and they need to be able to consistently be able to find parking. We have visitors who are coming in, who want to be able to park and how do we accommodate all of those people effectively. And so that's really what we want to get out of a study to look at how many people are trying to park, what are the potential solutions? So it's not giving the decision to somebody else because the city counsel is ultimately the decision maker, but we, but we need that we need good information to be able to make a decision, Aderhold said.”
    It's not a study that I'm really all that enthusiastic about is it's one of those things that like looking at your watch and telling you what time it is. I think that we have, you know, important Harbor commission that has an awful lot of information. We have a port and Harbor staff that has a ton of information, and it's a matter of just starting to piece in some solutions. I don't think that there's going to be a universal sort of a solution that any, any consultant will come up with. Just options. And again, the city council is going to have to wrestle with all those options,” Castner said.
    Mayor Castner is known for not breaking 3-3 ties on the six-member city council, though it’s happened twice.
    “Basically the primary role, the one thing that state law says that a mayor has to do is preside. So as the presiding officer and kind of the mouthpiece for the city, the mayor presides over the city council meetings and, and tries to provide some leadership there in order to keep a cohesive group working together. And, I. Pretty much have insisted that the group has to come up with four votes in order to move anything through and that was the reason I didn't said that it wasn't going to break ties. So they had to find some consensus. And the council has in the last two years reached consensus on most, every item,” Castner said.
    “I would break a tie. I would bring forward recognitions and proclamations. I would also pass the gavel if I have something that I want to speak to.I think it is best for the mayor to preside and allow the council to have discussion, but if the mayor does have something valid and important to input, that, they pass the gavel so that they're held accountable, the mayor is held accountable for the amount of time that they're speaking,” Aderhold said. “Cause that's really one of the points of having the gavel is to be able to say, ‘OK, you know, you've made your point. We need to move on to somebody else now.’”
    Gustafson also passed on a question from a listener interested in the candidate’s positions on growth and services.
    “It's that is the, the push and pull, you know, You know, are the services that we provide are based on our, you know, the revenues that we receive, which are mostly from sales taxes and property taxes, and you know, how the city residents really see them see the need to have those revenues spent, So, you know, if we want to add something we have to, you know, before we're going to rearrange parking on the spit, we have to figure out how, you know, how that's being paid for which, you know, there's also a push pull between the, the Port and Harbor, which their funds are an enterprise fund and the general fund, which pays for most of the rest of city services. And so there's always the push pull of, is that from general funds or is that from Port and Harbor funds? So there's a, I'm not sure if I'm answering exactly answering the question, but, there's always that push pull of, you know, how. How do we, how does the council spend, the S the city's money and in an, in, a responsible and appropriate way.”
    “OK, well, let's go back to annexation. That was a big push for growth of city boundaries. And with it came the implied promise that, okay, we're going to include you in the city, but we're going to include you with what the other city residents have. We have not fulfilled that promise. So some people would perceive that as a growth sort of a thing by expanding water and sewer and such around the city. But that's, to me, you know, like an unfulfilled promise that that has been made and not a lot of effort has gone into that. So I think that we have to, you know, give everybody kind of equal access to the, to the, to the services that we have downtown,” Castner said.
    Homer’s Municipal Election is on Oct. 6. In addition to selecting a mayor for a two-year term, voters will see four candidates running for Homer City Council.