Mayor’s Report: Koplin shares approach to political campaigns

Koplin addresses AMHS service, re-institutes invocation at Council meetings

CT 8-12 Mayor Clay Koplin Report _ MugshotBy Clay Koplin
City of Cordova Mayor

It has been a very busy month, with several projects in hand. Mayor City Work in progress includes a review of opportunities to consider a disaster declaration for one or several of PWS fisheries this season, the AMHS service to southcentral Alaska, a letter to USFS supporting local businesses in the community, Crater Lake funding opportunities, City Manager recruitment, and engagement with citizens and council.

I will speak to these items below.

A couple items of note for council, I plan to re-institute the invocation at the beginning of each meeting as a long-standing tradition and practice, and, frankly, as an agenda item that has been overlooked. My intention is to be inclusive, initially inviting a range of faiths ranging from Judeo-Christian to Eastern to a simple atheist/agnostic moment of silent reflection. A few moments of calm before each meeting to clear our minds and focus on the challenges and needs of Cordova will, I hope, be constructive.

Another consideration for council is Mayor participation in political/campaign season events. This is the one time when candidates who have worked for Cordova ask for help during their campaigns, and it is important to strike a balance to recognize their work and accomplishments or lack of them, without showing favoritism to those who are opposing them in the elections. The City of Cordova, Council, and Mayor are apolitical, and my basic framework (I’d encourage council concurrence or feedback) for political participation during campaign season is as follows:

1) Treat all candidates of all affiliations with respect, focusing in particular on communicating the needs and priorities of Cordova. New candidates generally get more time and attention as they are less familiar with Cordova and our organizations, and we try to get them “up to speed” on our issues during election season. I generally spend a few hours each with visiting incumbents or challengers to tour them through the community and show them the socio-political landscape, the needs, the priorities, and the warmth and hospitality of Cordova as they commit to the time and expense of visiting Cordova.

2) As Mayor I do not directly endorse candidates, but will occasionally extend our appreciation to incumbents for their past work for Cordova in the form of quotes or sound bites, i.e. Rep. Austerman for Cordova Center Funding, Senator Murkowski for assistance with hydro project development and Navy Training Exercise concerns, Representative Thomas for project funding and Veteran’s support, and new challengers/opponents for taking time and interest to visit

Cordova. I allow all candidates to freely take pictures as we tour the community, and use them in their social media.

I’m working the fisheries disaster concerns with councilman Burton and Representative Stutes (who are doing all the work, I’m monitoring at this time).

Letters to USFS and AMHS are in progress when and if necessary and will be copied to council if straightforward or pre-authorized, or brought to council beforehand if there are sensitive or controversial elements that I think the council should weigh in on before I act as the council’s spokesperson on that issue.

Regarding AMHS, the Southeast Conference (SEC) transportation committee, which Mike Anderson was appointed to, scheduled their two primary meetings on two of the only times when Mike would not be available to attend; Murphy’s law at work. Given a short timeframe for the last meeting, Mike and Sylvia Lange and I met for nearly 3 hours to discuss all the ins and outs of the ferry system to strike a concurrence for a consistent message from Cordova, and to arm Sylvia with the community message as she voluntarily and at her own expense attended the first meeting and reported back to Mike and me on it. Sylvia has requested to attend the next meeting in Petersburg, with assistance for the travel cost. We (Mike and I) have requested that the committee move the travel allowance to Sylvia so that she can attend on Cordova’s behalf and keep continuity through these first two meetings. It appears that SEC will cover the cost, if not I would suggest the City consider it. The AMHS other item for consideration on this agenda is to contribute to the AMHS restructuring project cost, with an outline of which communities have already contributed toward the $60,000 total match the State is requesting for their $200,000 contribution ($260,000 total). SEC greatly appreciated the City of Cordova renewing our associate membership and our participation in the AMHS fight for service. NVE representatives also attended the Anchorage AMHS meeting and I have a meeting scheduled to get their perspective on the meetings and Cordova’s path forward.

I have attended most of the City Manager Selection Committee and City Council meetings for selecting finalists and conducting telephone interviews, respectively. At present there are four finalists that have been telephonically interviewed and council will be considering whether to invite any or all of them to onsite interviews.

I have been reviewing and signing Clerk time sheets and have orchestrated the Clerk’s evaluation and summary for council as outlined in City code/policy and past practice.

I have both business travel and family vacation travel planned for the first three weeks of October, and will miss both of that’s months meetings. I apologize in advance for, particularly, the first monthly meeting in October, which had an unexpected work-related conflict arise just last week.

I met with chairpersons of boards and commissions for the first time this Wednesday, and there is a growing body of suggestion that the time is right for the community to consider a strategic planning process as many of our projects get completed and the demographic and needs of the community change.

There are many tough issues that might be considered during this planning including the future of community health services, City annexations, Borough Formation, etc. as we anticipate a new era of limited State of Alaska funding and support for communities.

The AML November meeting and schedule has been circulated, and I encourage any councilmen who have not attended the Newly Elected Officers training (NEO) to do so. It is a good investment in our community’s leadership.

Have a great September Cordova!

— Clay