In the weeks leading up to the municipal election, the Kodiak Daily Mirror is publishing Q&A’s for candidates running for borough assembly, city council and board of education.
Geoff Smith, a political newcomer, is the director of Special Services for the Kodiak Island Borough School District. Before that, he was a special education teacher. He’s lived in Kodiak for 25 years. He was born in Paisley, Scotland, and was raised in Wisconsin and Oregon. He has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary and Special Education from Northern Arizona University.
Why are you running for the borough assembly?
I have lived in Kodiak almost 25 years and intend to stay, as this island has become my home. The community of Kodiak has given a great deal to my family and I believe that it is time for me to give back. Additionally, I feel that it is my civic responsibility to get involved. We have our strengths as a community, and we also have our struggles and problems. Being part of the solution means that I am willing to spend the time to seriously consider our challenges, and research realistic and creative solutions that will contribute meaningfully to the well-being and health of our community. Serving on the borough assembly would be an honor should you choose to elect me.
What qualifies you for this role?
As an educator for 25 years in Kodiak, I have served as a leader in the teacher’s association, participated in the collective bargaining process and have a strong understanding of the budget process. I commercially fish and believe in protecting this industry and preserving our environment. I have been a leader in my profession, and I am a determined and successful problem solver. I enjoy challenges, and I believe the Kodiak Island Borough (KIB) is facing challenging times. I have a lot to learn when it comes to the operations of our borough but I am willing to put in the time to learn what I need to.
What issues would you most like to address during your time on the assembly?
I believe the long-term financial stability of the KIB needs to be addressed. We need to stop relying so heavily on property taxes and explore other revenue sources. I also feel that the KIB’s decisions should reflect the diversity of our community and not just those with the loudest voice. I plan to be accessible, a good listener and a critical thinker when it comes to progress and changes to our current system. I am prepared to get my hands dirty, so to speak, and do the hard work of finding solutions to problems with many perspectives and opinions. Even when we may not agree, we all want the best for our community.
What would you do to address those issues?
I would encourage staff and assembly members to explore, along with me, additional revenue sources and reexamine our budget for potential cost-saving measures. I think with some creative, forward thinking, we can address some of our long-term issues. We can invest and plan for a sustainable healthy borough that we can be proud to pass to our young people. It’s going to take a lot of hard work but I am ready to pull up my Xtratufs and engage in the hard work.
How do you think the borough should address its budget problems?
It can be challenging to look at a budget and find ways to be more efficient, and a fresh perspective may be the answer. There are no simple answers to this question. I do think exploring new revenue sources, managing our facilities in a responsible way and diligently adhering to our priorities are critical starting points. I look forward to engaging in the challenges, if Kodiak decides that I am someone they trust to represent the interests of our island.
There’s seven people running for three seats in this race. What makes you different?
My ability to see situations from multiple perspectives is unique because of the many roles that I have within the community; I am a parent, fisherman and educator. I am committed to Kodiak as my home and intend to remain here for many years to come. What motivates me to join the assembly is an honest interest in the long-term health of our entire community. The young people of Kodiak are my life’s work and I think they deserve to inherit a viable, strong and sustainable place to call home. I will do more than my part. That is my commitment to anyone that votes for me.