Tom Stroozas moved to Homer in 2006 after falling in love with the town during a vacation. Stroozas ran for Homer City Council last year, but was not elected. He currently serves on the Panning and Zoning Commission for the city of Homer. He’s one of three candidates running for two seats on the Homer City Council. Incumbent Gus VanDyke and Bryan Zak are not running again, though Zak is running for mayor.
Stroozas is retired after working as a corporate manager of commercial marketing for a large natural gas utility in Charlotte, North Carolina. Now he and his wife write an Alaska dining guide. He currently serves on the Planning and Zoning Commission for the city of Homer. He is a Homer transplant from the Lower 48.
“I arrived in Homer by vacation in 2001, as so many people seem to come here, and have that preverbal ‘Aha’ moment as they crest Baycrest. And my wife and I looked at each other and said, ‘You know, we could retire here.’ And you know, I was about five years away from my retirement plan at that time and built a house and finished it in 2004. And it was ready for us when we retired in 2006 and we’ve been here ever since,” said Stroozas.
Stroozas is involved in volunteer and advocacy work. He serves as president of the Homer Elks Lodge and of the Homer Chamber of Commerce board, on which he has served for the last five years. He also represented Homer Voice for Business, a group of local business people that advocate for issues that affect the well-being of Homer businesses. Additionally, he helps with the Homer Garden Club’s annual harvest dinner and works with the Boy Scouts.
Stroozas was born in Superior, Wisconsin, where he grew up helping out in his father’s grocery business and butcher shop. He then served in the Navy for four years and, after a few years in Florida, moved to Charlotte, where he met his wife and had a son. He has three granddaughters and one grandson who live in North Carolina.
Stroozas says he would draw on his business and volunteer experiences if elected to the council, and bring decisiveness to the difficult decisions the body is sure to face.
“The big thing that I want to bring to the city council is the courage to make tough decisions, because that is something that obviously we are all faced with on a daily basis. And it’s been no more evident than budgeting issues that we’ve had in Homer over the past year, that likely we’ll continue to have to scrutinize and look more closely at moving forward. And it’s very evident with this situation with our state budget, as well,” said Stroozas.
Stroozas says one of the most important issues Homer City Council needs to address is economic development.
Stroozas is a big supporter of the tourism industry in Homer. But he says the city needs to do more to attract sustainable industries that provide year-round jobs in Homer and create incentives for businesses to hire local people. He says Homer has great schools but young people rarely find jobs to support living here year-round, and that needs to change.
“So often we see and know of kids, they graduate from high school, they go away to college, they come back, they may work a summer or two and many of them will get a seasonal job because they really can’t find anything in their educational field, and then they move away. We need to create more educational opportunities for people,” said Stroozas.
In addition, Stroozas supports expanding the port and further development of South Peninsula Hospital.
“Healthcare, because of the increase in population that we are going to have here with people 65 and older, going forward, can be a major, major employer in this area. I envision South Peninsula Hospital in another 10 to 15 years being far larger than it is,” said Stroozas.
He worked on the current zoning for commercial cannabis in Homer and says he is cautious about expansion of the new industry to the Spit. He does not support the proposed bond to build a new public safety building of the magnitude proposed, but says he would support a more conservative proposal.
Stroozas says he would do all he could as a council member to advocate for education funding. In addition, he supports city incentives for builders to construct more affordable housing.
Stroozas says he supports the sustainable development of natural resources. He says his strength as a council member would be his business background and connections.
Stroozas says his years working in the corporate world as well as being a small business owner and his variety of volunteer positions make him the best candidate for a council seat.
Stroozas says listening will be key to his success if he’s elected.
“I try to remember that because there’s a lot out there that I can learn just by listening,” he said.