Two Kodiak City Council members are running unopposed for three-year terms in this year’s election.
John Whiddon was born in Portsmouth, England, where his father was stationed in the Royal Navy, he wrote to the Kodiak Daily Mirror. His family later immigrated to the United States, where he completed high school and college in San Diego.
He joined the Coast Guard in 1974 and after Officer Candidate School went to Navy Flight School in Pensacola, Florida. He spent 20 years as a Coast Guard helicopter pilot with two tours in Kodiak and one in Sitka. After the Coast Guard, Whiddon owned and operated several businesses. He managed Pacific Seafood Kodiak for several years and is currently the plant manager at International Seafoods of Alaska.
Whiddon has a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s in human resources management and a master’s in business administration. He and his family have lived all over the world but have lived in Kodiak for the past 28 years. He has served three terms on the City Council.
One of the most significant issues facing Kodiak is shrinking state budgets and sales tax revenue, Whiddon wrote.
“We have aging infrastructure, some dating back to the post-earthquake era that must be maintained or replaced. Maintaining services and infrastructure while working within a balanced budget will be in the forefront for the next several years,” he wrote.
He also wrote that the restriction of selling edible products in marijuana retail stores will come before the council in the near future.
“Before the council votes on the matter, I would hope that we hear from a broad cross-section of the public so that we can make a more informed decision. Beyond that, the council will continue to work with staff and modify policies and procedures as necessary,” he wrote.
To improve the appearance of the city, he wrote that he would like to see community support of murals painted on all the seafood processing facilities, similar to the ones in Newport, Oregon.
“These murals (in Oregon) depict fishing boats, processing workers, Coast Guard (helicopters) and ships, and general waterfront life,” he wrote. “This would be an attraction for both tourists and locals and would create a positive atmosphere along our waterfront.”
If the city was awarded a $1 million grant, he wrote that he would consider investing the funds in organizations that address social needs of the community and add improvements to Baranof Park.
“In these times of fiscal austerity, there are numerous agencies and organizations that have been underfunded or had services drastically reduced,” he wrote. “At the same time, I would consider an enhancement to Baranof Park to provide covered shelter for the ice rink so that it could become a first class all-weather facility.”
COUNCIL MEMBER CHARLES DAVIDSON
Charles Davidson has served on the council since 1993.
He was born in Indiana and came to Kodiak in 1972 to earn money to pay for a wedding in Switzerland to his current wife, who was born there. After getting married, the couple returned to Kodiak, where he found odd jobs and eventually managed Captain’s Keg pizza restaurant. He eventually became a longshoreman, a job that he continued until he retired.
Davidson said he believes the most significant issue facing Kodiak is funding to maintain and upgrade city infrastructure.
“In the next decade or less, we have a $67 million need for funding for the UV plant upgrade, Saint Herman’s Harbor, the wastewater treatment plant, a new fire station, the outdoor siren systems, and a park and recreation’s facility upgrade,” he said. “Where are we going to get money to do all this? Grants are coming in less and less from the state.”
Although Davidson said he could not think of any procedures or ordinances he would like to change, he said he is open to anything community members think should be changed. He reiterated that his top priority will be to pursue adequate funding to develop Kodiak’s infrastructure needs without raising taxes.
To improve the appearance of the city, he said he advocates to put out a request for proposals to hire individuals to clean up the city’s trash year round.
If the city was awarded a $1 million grant, he said he would advocate for trail upgrades, infrastructure development to welcome younger tourists and the refurbishment of the historic barn next to the library.
He would also like to develop “a youth hostel type campground, run by a private enterprise at Gibson Cove,” he said. Additionally, “I would love to see the historic barn turned into a public-use facility where people old and young can meet and have coffee.”
Election day is on Oct. 1. For community members who want to vote with absentee ballots, Sept. 24 is the last day the clerk’s office will receive absentee ballot requests, and Sept. 30 is the last day to vote an absentee ballot in person, according to the clerk’s election pamphlet. All absentee ballots must be received by 5 p.m. Oct. 8, postmarked no later than Oct. 1.