Brent Watkins sees public service as a way to give back to the community.
“I want to run because I do my best to serve Kodiak and the people here. They’ve been here for me when I’ve been in trouble and the least I can do is return it. It’s the nature of my family to do community service and this is a way I can do it well,”
Watkins has lived in Kodiak for 33 years and has worked in the construction, tourism and fishing industries.
If elected, he will focus on responsible spending, he said.
This includes careful use of grants, he said.
“The extra money that comes in from these different programs from the state and federal government is to make a project affordable for a community, not to make a project huge for a community,” he said.
“You make it huge for a community, all the taxes have to go up, things have to expand. You start running into bills that come due 10-15 years down the line that can’t be paid for. That’s part of the problem we’re having now with our budget … I think more conservative projects with a good solid plan for maintenance and durability is sound practice.”
Watkins would be opposed to increased staffing at the borough, as the island’s population has remained stable and personnel costs increase each year, he said.
“We need to work on affordable housing. We need to open more land up. And we need to look at the consolidation problem a little more. If we’re not going to downsize, we need to consolidate responsibility,” he said.
Watkins also believes he can use his role as a member of the Democratic National Committee and vice chair for the state’s Democratic Party to help generate funding from state and federal sources, as it grants him access to the people making those decisions.
“I use it as a lobbying position for coastal Alaska,” he said. “It’s easier for them to say, ‘Let’s move money in that direction,’ if they have a face and somebody that they’ve sat down with and had a meal with or a cup of coffee, so I try to be that person ... The more we can educate state and federal folks, the more we can keep that money flowing.”
Locally, Watkins believes the key to revenue generation is promoting small local businesses.
“Just because a small business starts, doesn’t mean we should look at it instantly as a tax revenue,” he said. Instead, the money should be allowed to flow into the community.
He would like to see more outreach to the U.S. Coast Guard and local veterans. “We have a really high veterans population here and I think we can engage them a lot better and do a lot for the town,” he said.
Finally, he said he is approachable and open to hearing the views of the community.
“It’s not about having a bunch of people there that are all like somebody. It’s having a bunch of people there that represent as much of the community as we can,” he said. “The bigger the set of people we have making the decisions for the community, the better our programs and codes and laws will reflect the people of Kodiak.”