A handful of borough representatives recently returned from a trip to Washington D.C. where they spent two days lobbying on behalf of Kodiak. Borough Manager Bud Cassidy said it was his first time to the nation’s capital, and the borough tries to send folks down every couple of years to make sure Kodiak has a voice on the federal level.
“For me I think the important thing is that the senators and representatives as well as the agency people that we meet with when we go back there, it’s important that they meet face to face with assembly members especially. I think they hear from managers and their staffs about issues, but they really kind of want to hear it face to face from the elected officials from a community. They expect it, and I think it was a good move on this assembly’s part to go back to D.C. There are some critical issues that we’re looking toward the federal government to fund and like I said a pretty valuable opportunity to go back and talk to them face to face.”
It was also Mayor Jerrol Friend’s first time in D.C. He said it was well worth the journey and he felt like Kodiak was well received.
“It was an eye-opening experience for me. It was really rewarding. I think we really got a lot accomplished, we had a great team down there and we worked really well together I thought. It’s a lot different then having those guys, we send them down a white paper, they read it. Here we can actually be specific and answer questions that they have when they’re reading this, at the time that they’re reading it. And I think you get your point across a lot better, being that one on one face down there. For me it was very informative and educational. It helped me understand a lot about what we send down there for requests and how these requests are responded to.”
The group met with representatives from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, The U.S. Coast Guard and The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, among other agencies. Assemblywoman Carol Austerman also made the trip down to D.C. and said the meeting with the Coast Guard was critical for Kodiak.
“We went into that meeting with open arms and basically said what can we do to make the Coast Guard at the upper federal levels bring more resources to Kodiak.”
The Coast Guard is looking to expand its operations in the years ahead, including sending additional cutters to Alaska, and Austerman said the hope is that they could be stationed in Kodiak.
“I think that now they kind of have that little bug in their ear that Kodiak really wants to increase the Coast Guard presence. We see it as a benefit for our community in a myriad of different ways and that we’re willing to work with them. And basically we just said if you think of something, call us, don’t say oh Kodiak doesn’t have that, call us and say Kodiak needs to get it and then as a municipality we will try and see how we can facilitate that happening.”
Other topics covered in the D.C. meetings were the borough’s landfill expansion project and the constant struggle to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s pricey requirements, as well as the Karluk Lake fertilization project, which has been in the works for many years.
Assemblyman Dave Kaplan also joined Friend, Cassidy and Austerman on the trip. The group also met with Alaska’s congressional delegation while in D.C.