Ask the Candidate: Melina Meyer

Melina Meyer. Photo courtesy of Melina Meyer

Candidate for Cordova City Council Seat D
Incumbent, running against Karen Deaton Perry

Job: Manager, Reluctant Fisherman Inn; owner, AKmelina Jewelry and The New Company Store

Public service: Vice mayor, Cordova City Council member, Native Village of Eyak Tribal Court judge, Cordova Iceworm Festival volunteer

Education: Studied at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Calif.

The city closed a more than $1 million funding gap by making deep cuts to several departments. How well did the city council handle the challenges of the 2021 budget?

The budget remains the single most important job of council. Planning for 2021 has the added burden of losses of the 2020 pandemic, and its continuing effects for 2021. I think in the end, given the many unknowns, we passed a budget with minimum impact on services and long-term goals we have as a city. It’s important to remain flexible as the situation changes. Ultimately, and ideally, we need our departments and capital projects fully funded.

State revenues are down, including school bond reimbursement and the Fish Tax. We passed a budget without tax increases, and revenues that are attainable and without drawing from the permanent fund. It’s important to protect our permanent fund for unforeseen emergencies and for generations to come. We cannot count on additional emergency funds, but we have a budget that can improve should those funds materialize.

In keeping with the established five-year plan to make our enterprise funds balanced, a 5% increase for city utilities was passed for the 2021 budget. I voiced concern over this increase, at this time. Any across the board increases only adds burden to those that were hardest hit during this crisis.

The Cordova Community Medical Center has averaged nearly $1 million in funds from our budget. That amount has been more than halved, thanks in part to additional emergency state/federal funds and concerted efforts to improve operations and personnel. We will continue to monitor the operations and savings in that area. Our new combined efforts with Ilanka Community Health Center has been a boost to our community’s health care, and I look forward to exploring expansion opportunities for more savings to the city.

How would you like to see the city adjust its coronavirus response?

Overall, we should all be very proud of how we as a community have responded to this emergency. It was a new virus with different information coming out all the time. Given what we know now, I think it prudent to keep up the protocols as defined by our medical professionals. It is far from over, and we should not let our fatigue and impatience work against us. With the vaccine roll out, and our local healthcare providers really doing an excellent job with what supplies they can get, there’s a light at the end of this tunnel.

What’s the most rewarding part of serving on the city council?

I feel fortunate to be able to help. I’ve learned a lot over the last three years. Getting to know how our local government works, and listening to various points of view. One of the things I especially like about Cordova is the feeling of community. I have lived here all my life, and it’s home, and always will be.

Your opponent, Karen Deaton Perry, runs one of Cordova’s best-known businesses. Why should voters select you over her?

I’m happy to see the turnout for this year’s election. There’s a lot of interest in the school board, and both council seats have two candidates. I decided to run for re-election to the council because I think I can bring an open mind, and continue being part of the solution. No one person has all the answers and I appreciate, especially, input from the community.

What is the biggest challenge facing Cordova in 2021?

Keeping and attracting residents means job opportunities, and a reasonable cost of living. We all know it isn’t easy living here, and given our location, it may never be “easy,” but most of us believe it is worth the challenges to keep and maintain what we have, while not increasing costs. Our basic infrastructure of transportation, enterprise (particularly our harbor and port), telecommunications and energy must be met and improved if we are to remain a place people will continue to call home.

The Cordova General Election will be held Tuesday, March 2 from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. at the Cordova Center, selecting new members of Cordova City Council, the Cordova School Board and the Cordova Community Health Center Authority Board.