Commentary

Westover: Service has given a broader appreciation for issues

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Cheryl Westover (Photo: City of Sitka)

Hello, Sitka. This is Mayor Cheryl Westover asking for your vote on Tuesday, Oct. 2.

I am a lifelong Sitkan who attended kindergarten through 12th grade in the Sitka School District. I graduated from college with a degree in criminal justice, worked for my family’s grocery business for 40 years before retiring this March, volunteered as a softball coach for almost 20 years and was part of the committee that founded Sitkans Against Family Violence.

Six years ago, I ran for Assembly and was elected. My platform then was to be a fiscal conservative using a common sense approach. I haven’t changed my philosophy. I still don’t like spending other people’s money and, when I do, I want it to make sense in an everyday application. Four years as an Assembly member and two years as mayor have given me a broader and more knowledgeable appreciation for the issues.

Six years ago, I also had no idea how truly challenging it would be to represent the good people of Sitka. Making life-changing decisions financially, socially and politically for our community is a tough balancing act. Today, we find ourselves on the brink of some major decisions. The Blue Lake dam expansion construction bid came in millions of dollars over projection; much of our city infrastructure is in urgent need of replacement or repair; cruise ship passenger numbers are down; many of our fishermen and other individuals and businesses are struggling; and federal dollars are all but gone while state funding for municipalities is being reduced as a result of dwindling oil revenues.

Here’s the good news: The administrator and our city staff must, by charter, give the Assembly a balanced budget every year. Fortunately, we have a healthy cash reserve and a permanent fund that contributes to the general fund each budget cycle. In spite of this, however, we are still short the funds required to take care of crucial city needs and infrastructure.

At this pivotal juncture, I am poised to meet the challenges ahead. While serving our community as mayor, I have had the opportunity to meet and forge effective working relationships with our congressional and state delegations, and other partners important to our success. If re-elected, I will continue doing my best for our community.

With your support, I look forward to serving you as mayor for two more years. Remember to vote on Tuesday, Oct. 2, or vote absentee. Thank you.

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