The filing period to run for local office closed earlier this month, and Assembly Member Kevin Mosher was the first person to throw his hat in the ring to reclaim his seat on the Sitka Assembly. KCAW spoke to Mosher about his three years in office and why he wants to serve another term.
When incumbent Kevin Mosher ran for a seat on the Sitka Assembly three years ago, he was concerned about the rising cost of living, and rising cost of local government.
“I was upset, because I saw a steep increase in utility rates, it just kept going up and up and up,” he says. “And I ran on that, that we can’t keep doing that forever. And I still stand by that.”
In his first year on the assembly, Mosher pushed hard for a pause on rate increases with some success. Along with other assembly members he called for a temporary hiring freeze at city hall, and the group established a subcommittee to review city jobs as they became vacant.
During his tenure, he also supported the hiring of a DC lobbying firm in the hopes of bringing more federal dollars to Sitka, and voted to re-establish the city’s public relations post with grant writing responsibilities. And while he voted against a resolution declaring a “climate emergency,” he later co-sponsored an ordinance to establish a “climate action task force.”
“I believe climate change is real. I’m not entirely convinced, I’m not 100% sure yet on how much we can do to control that,” he says. “But we need to move forward with environmentally friendly things with a light or low carbon footprint. And so that’s why I want to get behind this, I see it happening, I think it’s a positive. I want it to happen in a positive way.”
Not all of those decisions were popular. And like most assembly members who are new to public office, Mosher says his first few years in the role were a learning curve.
“Trying to encompass and represent an entire population that has very diverse opinions is a huge challenge,” he says. “I think the biggest thing I’ve learned,” he continues, “is to listen to all sides of every discussion or thought process, not just those that I tend to agree with, because everyone’s opinion matters.”
He says he’s become more flexible in the last year or two, and tries to strike a balance between maintaining city services and keeping costs down. And his perspective on rate increases changed a bit after sharing a cup of coffee with a Sitkan who he says had ‘historical knowledge’ of the city budget.
“After that, I did do some more research and thought about it. And I came to conclusion that, yeah, going forward, we need to try to, to do inflationary increases just to keep up, so we can keep our infrastructure funds, because there’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” he says. “I’ve decided to try to just slow the rate of increase… there’s a lot of things we can’t control. But we have to try to work on what we can control.”
Mosher joined the Sitka Assembly while the sale of Sitka Community Hospital to the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) was in progress. He wasn’t a fan of the sale at the time, but in retrospect he believes it was the right call.
Shortly after the Assembly approved the sale documents, Mosher co-sponsored a resolution to fire the former city administrator.
“Although the former administrator was a good man, I just don’t think he was a perfect fit for it. And it was just something that I felt very strongly that we needed a change of direction, and we needed it quickly, ” he said. “I never meant to hurt anyone ever. I would have preferred the whole process would have been done a lot more quietly. But it was what it was. And I wish all the best for our former administrator.”
The Assembly later hired John Leach, who took the reins of the city shortly before the coronavirus pandemic hit Alaska. Mosher says they were lucky to end up with an administrator with experience in emergency management, and is proud of the work Leach is doing.
If re-elected, Mosher says he’s focused on “promoting community affordability and economic growth.” And he hopes his experience will help him navigate the challenges Sitka may face in the next three years.
“These are very turbulent times. I want to help provide stability. And I believe that I offer a balanced view, I try to,” he says. “I feel like I’m just now getting kind of used to things and in the flow, and I want to continue to give more back.”
If re-elected, Kevin Mosher will serve a three year term on the Sitka Assembly.
Editor’s Note: Raven Radio will bring you continuing coverage of Sitka’s Municipal Election in the coming weeks. Interviews with the candidates, questionnaires and statements will be available online at the KCAW Election Hub in early September.