Volunteer Abby Bourgeois displays an “I voted” sticker on March 1, 2022. File photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith for The Cordova Times

Tuesday, March 5 will bring the Cordova city elections. Six seats — two on the school board, two on the hospital board, and two on the City Council — will be filled. There is just one candidate per seat, and only one candidate is new and not up for reelection.  

Cordovans will also vote on one proposition, which would amend parts of the City Charter related to City Council seats, the terms of the mayor and City Council members, and remove the minimum 40% vote threshold for mayoral and City Council candidates. 

The proposed new text to Section 10-2 would read: “The term of each council member shall be three years and shall continue until a successor has been elected and qualified. The term of the mayor shall be three years and shall continue until a successor has been elected and qualified.” 

Section 10-4 would be edited down to read: “A voter may also write in the name of, and vote for, a person whose name does not appear on the ballot. In case of a tie, the election shall be determined fairly by a drawing from among the candidates tying, in a meeting of the council and under its direction.” 

Section 2-1 will be amended to change designated council seats to non-designated council seats, meaning there would no longer be designated seats A through G and instead just seven city council members.  

Early in-person voting is available at the Cordova Center from 8 to 5 p.m. on weekdays until March 4. Applications for absentee ballots will be accepted until Feb. 27 via mail to City Clerk, City of Cordova, PO Box 1210, Cordova, AK 99574, or by email to [email protected]. Absentee ballots cast by mail must be received by the City Clerk by March 19. Absentee ballots cast by drop box must be placed in the drop box by the close of polls on March 5. There is one election drop box in Cordova, it is located upstairs at the Cordova Center main entrance under the covered drop-off driveway. 

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In-person voting on March 5 is located at Community Room A in the Cordova Center. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

More information can be found on the City of Cordova’s Website: https://www.cityofcordova.net/.  

Candidate profiles 

Wendy Ranney – City Council Seat D 

Why Cordova? What makes Cordova so special? 

Cordova is one of those places that just grabs your heart. I knew once I arrived in 1992 that I would end up here for good. I love the small town community feel. I enjoy the fact that we have no road access and I feel strongly that I can help keep Cordova this special hidden place. 

Why are you running again, and what makes you qualified? 

I am running for Seat D on the City Council because I was serving in this seat as an appointee by council. I enjoy my time on the council, and hope to continue serving but this time as an elected official. I have been a part of many boards and commissions in Cordova, and have a strong desire to make sure that our citizens are represented at the table. It takes all walks of life to make a good council and I have the time and energy to put in the hours to make sure that I am well educated and informed about the politics and issues of Cordova. 

What lessons have you learned over the last three years? 

I was appointed to my seat, so I have been serving for less than a year. I have learned quite a bit about the intricacies of city management, municipal budgets, and city code. 

What was the biggest challenge of the last three years and what was the biggest surprise? 

The biggest challenge of the last year was working on a balanced city budget. Of course we all have a list of the perfect budget, but once that is laid out there are a lot of compromises and hard decisions to be made. I am regularly surprised at what will bring citizens into the meetings and what fills the chairs. Topics that I may see as not a pressing issue can fill a room — I am sometimes surprised by those topics. 

How would you describe the current performance of the city council? 

I actually think that the current council is very well rounded, represents a wide section of Cordova, and is doing a good job. Folks need to remember that we all have day jobs and are not necessarily schooled in public administration or politics. We do our due diligence to make the best decisions we can while keeping as many wants as we can see being realistic.  

How do you work with others who you may disagree with, and how do you make the table bigger to include everyone in the conversation? 

While I feel that I am pretty outspoken regarding my opinions and feelings I also welcome folks that want to change my mind. I am willing to chat with anyone who has a differing opinion and listen to what they have to offer. Everyone’s input is valid. Please bring it to the meetings. One of the issues I see is that folks may not want to speak in a formal setting like an actual council meeting. It may be appropriate to do more of a town hall that is less formal once a month and invite some of the underserved or underrepresented populations in town. A less formal setting may encourage more participation. We also have email addresses and encourage folks that cannot speak in public or are uncomfortable with that type of pressure to write letters to us. The mayor and the council are very easily accessed, and if there is something that you want to bring to our attention email or meetings are certainly better than Facebook. 

How do you propose the city address rising costs of housing and housing shortages in the city?  

I do not have any answers or quick fixes for this problem, as it is a statewide problem. We have a housing shortage for middle income housing. There is university land that needs to be made available and subdivided out. Also, tiny house communities would seem like a no brainer for folks that want to come in and transition into the community. It is an ongoing and open conversation and I hope that we can pull more community members up to the table. 

How do you propose the city address the numerous vacancies in city positions and turnover in these positions? 

The city is in the impossible position of losing our city manager right before the budget cycle. We currently have an interim city manager who is trying to do two full-time jobs. It is an ongoing focus of staff to try to interview and fill those open positions. Housing and budget issues are main problems holding back filling those positions. Everything is connected and it is a complicated cycle to break, fill or fix. 

What is the most important problem facing Cordova, and how do you plan to work on addressing it? 

Personally I feel that the biggest issues facing Cordova are the ever-rising cost of living and the housing shortage. If we do not address those two issues then we cannot move forward with any growth or change. It is past time to start thinking outside the box regarding these issues and look at how other communities are dealing with these statewide issues. I did a lot of networking with other community leaders at the Alaska Municipal League this past winter and hope to continue to look for solutions. 

Thanks to The Cordova Times for giving candidates a platform to speak. I have missed this in our local paper and am pleased to see it coming back. Get out and vote Cordova, every vote counts. 

Henk Kruithof – School Board 

Why Cordova? What makes Cordova so special? 

I first came to this beautiful and unique community in the early 1980s fishing on a seining boat to pay for college. My son moved here as a fisherman and started a family years later. Five years ago my wife and I decided to retire here to be closer to our grandkids. 

Why are you running for this seat again, and what makes you qualified? 

I’m running again for this seat because I want to give back to the community. As a retired educator, 12 years as a teacher and 14 as an elementary principal, I believe that I bring to the position a unique set of qualifications. 

What lessons have you learned over the last three years? 

Over the past three years I have learned that it is critical to prioritize our goal, quality education for all students. 

What was the biggest challenge of the last three years and what was the biggest surprise? 

The pandemic certainly was the biggest challenge. It wasn’t a surprise but certainly was comforting how the school district and the community worked together to make it through those challenging times. 

How would you describe the current performance of the board? 

Our current board is very committed to the education of our students. We work together with the superintendent, students, parents, and community to make the best decisions. 

How do you work with others who you may disagree with, and how do you make the table bigger to include everyone in the conversation? 

As members of the board we may disagree with each other or others but in the end, after giving all interested participants an opportunity to be heard, we support the collective decision. As a board we prioritize community engagement and implement a variety of activities around that priority. 

What is the most important problem facing CSD, and how do you plan to work on addressing it? 

We have a school board goal that speaks directly to our work priority. The goal states that 100% of our students will read at grade level by the end of third grade. We work toward this goal through the work that we do and the decisions we make. 

Inadequate funding for education has been an issue across the state. What does this mean for CSD? How do you plan on addressing tight resources within CSD? 

It is important that we continue to advocate for adequate school funding. Additionally, we must make financial decisions with our priorities at the forefront, quality education for all of our students. 

What does your mission for public education within Cordova look like? 

My mission for public education is that every student graduates with the skills to pursue their dreams. 

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