In the weeks leading up to the municipal election, the Kodiak Daily Mirror is publishing Q&As for candidates running for borough assembly, city council and board of education.
Aimee Williams is the executive director of Discover Kodiak, an organization that promotes tourism in Kodiak. She’s former active duty Coast Guard and lived in Kodiak between 2005 and 2009, and then came back in 2016. She grew up in LeMars, Iowa, and has a Bachelor of Science in Management from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, as well as a Master of Science in Technology and Human Resources Development from the University of Texas. She was in the Coast Guard for 12 years, serving in law enforcement, immigrant interdiction, drug interdiction and workforce training. This is her first political campaign since she was president of the Coast Guard Academy Class of 1999.
Why are you running for the borough assembly?
I am running for the borough assembly because I want to help our island communities improve their residents’ quality of life. I want Kodiak Island to have workforce training that keeps our youth here, combined with a high quality of life that is affordable and keeps our retirees here.
What qualifies you for this role?
My qualifications for this role are found in my education, military experience, ability to digest large amounts of information, creation of out-of-the-box solutions, working with diverse groups of people and being willing to learn from others. I have experience thriving in both solo leadership roles and working in teams.
What issues would you most like to address during your time on the assembly?
I would focus on efficiency of the borough processes, improve economic resiliency, poor cooperation with the city of Kodiak, lack of high-quality internet conductivity across the borough, lack of service from the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) and nonprofit funding.
What would you do to address those issues?
I would simplify and clarify processes to interact with the borough by creating a communications plan for staff/assembly members to follow when dealing with outside inquiries, dedicate funds to economic development projects including a comprehensive economic development strategy, improve cooperation with the city of Kodiak, improve communication with outlying villages, advocate for the Alaska Marine Highway System and reevaluate the policies for funding nonprofits.
How do you think the borough should address its budget problems?
I would start by looking at the last three fiscal year budgets as evaluation tools. By comparing commitments made in the previous budgets with actual accomplishments, I could gain insight into how effectively the borough has been following its strategic plan. In order to reduce spending, some possible solutions could be to delay or reprioritize projects, limit discretionary spending or set reduction goals across the different departments. When the Alaska House Finance Committee changed their school bond debt replacement policy, they left the borough assembly with very few choices. The assembly has already decided to use the Facilities Fund earnings, but it must continue to review revenue, mill rates and borrowing to maintain a balanced budget.
There’s seven people running for three seats in this race. What makes you different?
I have a diverse background both in my education and work experience, and have ties to the community in a variety of ways. I’m a mother to a sophomore at Kodiak High School, a veteran and a spouse to an active duty Coast Guard member, and the executive director of an organization with a membership that spans the archipelago. I have also recently been involved with the distribution of CARES Act funding and have reviewed approximately 375 needs-based applications. I have a solid knowledge base of what condition our small business community is currently in, and the obstacles they will be facing in the upcoming months.