Next Tuesday, we decide between two nice men who are candidates for Mayor of the Kenai Peninsula Borough. One has been pretty much a one note guy, consistently working to lower taxes. While this sounds attractive at first glance, it would effectively downsize all the government services most of us take for granted.
The recent Borough Mayor race presented a wide variety of candidates and philosophies of government. People whose public service I have watched over the years, like Dale Bagley, Gary Superman and Mike Navarre are all informed, capable people who enjoy problem-solving. Each would have brought a different perspective to the office, but none of them have proposed raising taxes and none are considered big spenders.
Now there are two candidates. One has ridden the wave of anti-government sentiment that has swept across our nation. This troubles me. A public life built on just saying 'No' is no enough. And I want more than a catchy slogan. To me, real leadership requires a deep understanding of a wide array of issues and a commitment to serving the broad public interest. It involves accepting our representative democracy as one of the best ideas on the planet and rolling up one's sleeves to help us move forward. Responsible leadership would not plunge us into an anti-government negative downward spiral.
In contrast, Mike Navarre, born into a local family that considered public service a high calling, took himself off to college to study economics and government in hope that he might someday help his community with those skills. And he has done so, working successfully for local non-profits, and at the borough and state level of government as our representative. Mike Navarre brings a positive attitude and a lifelong commitment to building a better community with better jobs, a quality education for our youngsters and a better quality of life for everyone.
A customer recently reminded me of the long citizens' effort to promote the idea of a Unity Trail between Soldotna and Kenai. As usual, Fred Sturman opposed the project, asserting that "we don't need this and nobody will use it." Mike Navarre, who was our representative in the Alaska State Legislature at the time, listened to us, understood the need, and was able to garner state funding for the mostly federally funded project. Today, hundreds of people enjoy great mobility, health and safety because they are able to access a trail that is set back from the busy highway.
What happened to the American Dream of providing a better education and a better world for our kids than we had? Do we sacrifice their future on the altar of No Taxes? What sort of place do we want to live in? We choose our borough's CEO on Tuesday. Will we choose a negative, cut to the bone, diminished community? Or will we choose a warm, wise and thriving one? It is up to us.