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Blake was his student-body president during junior college in Paris, Texas, but has stayed out of politics since then.
The Los Angeles native said it really wasn’t possible to become involved in local politics in California, or during the seven years he and his family ran a medical clinic in Dallas.
His journey now into politics has been about a block long.
“My son attends Boy Scouts at the Catholic Church across from Centennial Hall, and I started sitting in at meetings just in the last 12 or 18 months. I just found it to be very interesting. I felt like I had to give something back. Maybe Civic Duty sounds corny, but I felt like it was time for me to do something for Sitka, because Sitka has just embraced my family and I over the last few years, and I felt it was something I could do for the community.”
Blake has lived in Sitka for four years. He said he and his wife chose the community because they were ready to expose their two sons to other cultures. Suzi is a doctor at SEARHC. Blake said they opted for work in Sitka rather than move to far western Alaska.
A relatively recent arrival in Sitka himself, Blake believes the assembly could do more to promote increased tourism.
“Number one, first and foremost, is to improve and continue programs that may enhance and really bring tourism here to enhance the local businesses. My wife and I had a private practice for seven years and ran a business and felt some of the frustrations and concerns when you have employees. We had nine employees in our practice. I see the local businesses here struggling. Tourism is down, I see that. There was a recent magazine article ‘The 12 Best Kept Secrets in the US’ and Sitka was there. And I’m like ‘Why are we keeping Sitka this big secret?’ Maybe we’re afraid they’re going to eat too much of Harry Race’s ice cream or something. So, I think we need to let people know Sitka’s here.”
Blake applauds the efforts of the private sector to accommodate increased tourism. He supports work under way by the McGraw family to build a 300-foot dock and floating breakwater at their haulout facility at Halibut Point Marine.
“I think they’ve independently made actions and arrangements and financial obligations to bring a sizeable dock onto private property – with the necessary permits – to accommodate obviously cruise ships. So that cruise ships feel more welcome to come here. It may not be the best location, but they’re certainly putting their best foot forward in an independent fashion to welcome cruise ship passengers.”
Blake is concerned about the $170,000 dollars the assembly recently appropriated to community nonprofits. He wonders if the city can really afford to do that, with the housing economy struggling, and supporting industry down. He says the assembly needs to show Sitka’s businesses “that they care.”
Despite these challenges, Blake says he and his family have found a lot to appreciate in Sitka. He enjoys living here; it reminds him of another coastal community a little south of here.
“Believe me, I spent my whole life living in Southern California. I spent several years in Los Angeles working in trauma centers. I lived on the beach. In the 60s and 70s my spot was Malibu Beach and Santa Barbara, and I lived just fifteen miles away. Sitka reminds me of Santa Barbara in the 70s. It’s an incredible place.”
Blake says his personal heroes are his wife, “the smartest lady doctor I know,” and the men and women of the Armed Forces.
Terry Blake is running for one of two open seats on the assembly. He’ll face incumbent Jack Ozment, Michelle Putz, and Thor Christianson in the municipal election on October 5th.
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