Political races in Soldotna are pretty much already settled, with only one candidate for each seat up for election. Keith Baxter is looking to return to the council following a failed bid at the state house last fall.
“I really enjoyed being on the council and really kind of look at as continuing the work I had started in 2013 when I was elected the first time," says Baxter, who is running for Seat F on the council.
His is one of just three names on the ballot, joining Tyson Cox, who will likely keep his spot on Seat B and former mayor Dr. Nels Anderson who is also running uncontested for another term in that office. Baxter says he’s excited to get back to work on some big issues the council will address in the coming months and even years, namely, annexation. That’s an issue he’s kept up with since his last stint on the council through the planning and zoning commission.
“When it comes to annexation, I know there are a lot of folks who have made up their mind about it and I’m trying to keep an open mind until I hear the feedback we’re gathering now. The city is gathering feedback from the people who specifically live in the proposed areas that are being studied and the existing constituents that city council members have. Obviously we care about the input we get from our friends in Kenai, Sterling. But those places aren’t being annexed. So I’m really curious to look at what the people in the proposed study areas have to say and what people in the city have to say because we haven’t heard from all of them yet.”
He says one of the other big issues is cannabis. That will likely be settled, at least for awhile, when the council votes this week on a permanent moratorium on the industry inside city limits. But Baxter says that decisions made now don’t have to be the final word.
“Regardless of the decision that comes out of this meeting, nothing is written in stone. Even when ordinances are passed, they can be repealed, new ordinances can be passed in the future that can undo previous ordinances. When it comes to marijuana regulation, I’d be surprised if the regulation we have in 2017 or 2018 is the regulations that we have in 2020. I think this will continue to evolve in our state and in our area.”
Asked why he thinks the ballot doesn’t have more names on it for the offices that are open this year, Baxter says it’s mostly a function of the size of the city and, by extension, how many people have time and interest in serving, though there may be some level of antipathy based on the highly contentious discourse on the national political level.
“And by the time you look at who is old enough and able and interested in participating in an elected, public capacity, that number quickly shrinks. We’re seeing some new people come into the process even in that small footprint of 4,500 residents. There have been some young Gen Xers and older Millennials get involved in the process.”
Baxter urges people to find him on facebook to share concerns and tell him what they think or, give him a call at 398-7287.