Publisher’s Note: As we do ahead of each local election, KDM gives candidates the opportunity to present information about themselves directly to our print and digital readers. We reserve the right to edit for length, style and clarity.
Candidate: Pat Branson
Office: City Mayor
Occupation: CEO of Senior Citizens of Kodiak
Why are you running for re-election? I am running for re-election because there are several items I would like to see the city complete on which we have been working: a new fire hall, port and harbor improvements, economic development, recreation center improvements, and employee wage reviews. The city in their annual goal-setting session establishes priorities from which we work as a team.
What qualifies you for this role? My municipal experience consists of being mayor for 10 years, on the city council for one year, 12 years on the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly as well as president of the Alaska Municipal League. I enjoy public service and working with others to solve problems.
What would be your priorities during your time on City Council? The mayor establishes priorities along with the council and staff each year. It has always been my priority as mayor to work with council members and staff in assuring we meet those priorities, which includes providing a quality of life with continued vital services within a balanced budget.
How would you evaluate the ESC’s performance in response to COVID? As a member of the Emergency Services Council, along with other members of the community, I think we have done our best as we worked through a completely different type of emergency. This has been a most difficult time for everyone, with really no guidelines in place for keeping residents safe. But I think ESC and EOC stepped up to the plate and without much assistance from the state we managed collectively with health care providers to assure testing, vaccines and safety measures were in place. COVID was completely different than dealing with earthquakes, tsunamis or any other emergency.
How do you feel about the city’s current budget? What things are either overfunded or underfunded? The City Council and staff have done great work in continuing vital services while cutting the budget and having funds for six months of operations. As is the governing body’s charge, an in-depth annual review of the budget and policies are done as a team effort. I am proud of the council and staff’s work with the city’s budget and keeping services in place.
The city and the borough have had on-again, off-again conversations and debates about consolidation. What, if anything, do you think needs to happen on the topic? Having served on both the City Council, as city mayor and on the Borough Assembly, I can say we have had better days of communication and working relationships between both governing bodies. I think the recently established working group will make a difference, as will holding more regular joint work sessions. I think there are more efficiencies that can happen between the city and borough. As far as consolidation goes, the city has never been against consolidation; we just want that review process to be done with good research, facts and process.
Are you satisfied with the City’s plan for the fire station? Are there any changes you want to make to the current plan? The city council, staff and the public vetted the new fire hall site for more than two years and we now have a road map for completing the project. That road map spells out in detail the next steps to take, funding options, and how we will move forward.
Do you believe that there needs to be changes to the waterfront facilities? If so, what should they be? The city definitely has plans for port and harbor improvements. We are a fishing community, and the harbor is vital to our economy. I would also say that the shipyard is another piece of the city’s infrastructure, and we now have a public/private partnership that is working well. We will continue to have harbor projects on the city’s state and federal capital lists.