Rebecca Skinner is the only incumbent running for a seat on the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly this year.
Skinner is an attorney and has lived in Kodiak a total of 31 years.
First elected to the assembly in 2014, Skinner said she is seeking reelection so she can continue to help the borough navigate through recent financial challenges, including declining funds.
“Looking at the foreseeable future, the financial condition probably isn’t going to improve, so probably we’re going to be dealing with these financial pressures for I would think at least the next … (two to four) years. I am very concerned about that,” she said.
For Skinner, part of being a good assembly member is keeping an eye on what other government entities are doing as they face their own budget concerns.
“I think every time we make a decision to spend money, we need to look at the situation from a borough perspective but also from a resident perspective,” she said.
“We’ve heard about the city sales tax increasing. The state has talked about a sales tax, they’ve talked about an income tax. Of course, the borough recently increased the fee on telephone lines, we increased the garbage rate, and could eventually increase the mill rate. Any one of these things by themselves may seem like a small impact, but I’m looking at how are all these things coming together to impact the people of Kodiak, and I think that could be a pretty big hit for business and families that live here.”
Any changes, whether through cuts to services or increased spending, should be implemented gradually to lessen the impact on individuals in the community, she said.
According to Skinner, her three years of experience on the assembly “will be valuable as we balance information and potential impacts during decision-making process.”
In addition to addressing the budget, Skinner hopes to move forward with consolidation discussions in the next term. Although she has not yet formed a definitive decision on the issue, she believes the time has come to talk about the issue, particularly in light of the city’s recent decision to investigate potential annexation of land north and south of city limits.
“I think we need to have some really good discussions about that and try to identify the best pathway forward for the long-term benefit of Kodiak,” Skinner said.
Asked about the borough’s actions on housing affordability, Skinner said she believes the assembly could benefit from a study with updated information on housing availability and affordability in Kodiak.
“I do think that everyone would agree there is an affordable housing issue in Kodiak, but we haven’t defined yet what is affordable housing. I think realistically, affordable housing is different for different people,” she said.
No matter the topic on the table, Skinner stressed that discussion among assembly members is of the utmost importance, both in helping to weigh the pros and cons of an action and in helping the public understand the reasoning behind assembly members’ decisions.