Tuesday marked my last day working as a reporter for the Kodiak Daily Mirror. I wanted to take this moment to thank every person who has lent their expertise and time. Telling this island’s stories has been an honor, and I am grateful to all of you — our readers — for your trust. I hope I have done well by you. With every story I have written here, my love for Kodiak has grown.
Writing about this island, I have been struck by the resilience of this community. I am grateful for the opportunity to live here and to speak with many of you about your livelihood, your challenges and your triumphs. As I prepare to leave, I have two parting hopes for our readers.
My first hope relates to this newspaper. In the last two months, hundreds of news outlets across the country have had to cut staff, reduce hours and even close because of the economic constraints caused by the coronavirus. These are difficult times for all of us. But if you appreciate the news we have produced here, from coverage of government meetings to business spotlights, to reporting on the coronavirus, I urge you to subscribe to the newspaper and support local journalism. The Kodiak Daily Mirror is an asset to this community, and I hope it will remain for years to come.
With only one confirmed case of COVID-19, it may seem like the story of the pandemic is over in Kodiak. But many questions remain unanswered. What will the next school year look like? How will the island’s small businesses weather the economic downturn? Where will all the CARES Act money go? With your support, these will be just some of the questions that this newspaper will endeavour to answer in the months to come.
My second hope is simple: vote. If you care about your mill rate — vote. If you care about how your tax money is used — vote. If you care about your water supply, school teachers, code enforcement, land developed, waste removal — vote, and ask your friends to vote, too. In the 2019 local elections, the voter turnout rate was 15%. Surely, more than 15% of residents care about how that local tax money is used. It may seem like an insignificant act, but voting is a powerful way to say to elected officials that you care, and you are watching.
During my time in Kodiak, I covered dozens of borough assembly meetings and board of education meetings. Watching democracy in action — quite literally — has always been a thrill, even if it meant listening to multiple two-hour debates about dumpsters. I hope that community members of all ages will continue to be involved in the governing bodies that shape life on this island. Vote in local elections, speak during public comment periods, join a committee, volunteer for an organization, run for office. It has been amazing to witness how this community can come together in good times and bad.
My decision to leave the Kodiak Daily Mirror wasn’t easy. I feel a sense of commitment to the work we do, especially during this global pandemic, when the importance of being informed is illustrated so clearly. I am leaving a piece of my heart on this island, and I will be back for it sooner or later.