Below is information from each of the 4 candidates running for the 3 open seats on the Community Council Board of Directors. (in the order they applied):
He moved here 7 years ago with his wife, Donna. He is a retired federal employee. He is running for the Council Board of Directors because he feels he has business sense to offer and says that Board needs be as diverse as possible to represent ALL Talkeetna residents. He feels he represents a part of the community not represented at the present time.
He feels that Talkeetna is, and will be, facing growth issues in the years to come. “Talkeetna needs to decide how they want to look in the future,” he says. He says he feels like he is moderate…he wants Talkeetna to keep the small town feel it has and at the same time, invite businesses other than tourism to be part of the community in order to be sustainable.
He is involved with the Upper Susitna Seniors Inc., volunteers his time at KTNA fundraisers, and became deeply interested in the Moose Dropping Festival issues when they occurred this summer. He is concerned with issues surrounding the Alaska Railroad, large corporate tourism as well as the reports of rising crime in the community.
Cary Birdsall: I came to Alaska from Syracuse, N. Y., in 1971. I was looking for cooler summers and wilder land, and a place where things didn’t feel so “decided”. Ironically, I ended up living in the biggest city in the state.
By 1989 I was married and had two young children – a new-born and a kindergartner.. Sarah, now my ex-wife, and I decided that Anchorage had gotten too big and busy, and too much like the places we had left to come to Alaska in the first place. Her family had settled up the tracks in the early 70’s, and we decided Talkeetna would be the place to go. In 1994 I finally landed a teaching job at Talkeetna Elementary School. In the ensuing years, both my children graduated from Susitna Valley Junior/Senior High School, and I retired from teaching after 28 years. I now substitute teach here, and presently serve on the Talkeetna Community Council and on the KTNA Board of Directors.
Serving on the Community Council gives me a chance to give something back to this community that has had such a positive influence on my children.
The most pressing issues Talkeetna faces at this time relate to growth and tourism. This is a unique little town, and over the years more and more people have, like myself, chosen to become a part of it. At the same time, more and more people and a number of cruise lines have chosen Talkeetna as a tourist destination. As Talkeetna grows, decisions are being made to accommodate this growth. I feel that as a community we need to make these decisions together. While there are people who feel that group decision making represents an invasion of privacy and individual rights, I think most people have literally looked down the road and realized that we have something special here that we can lose without some foresight and planning. A prime example of this need is our historical downtown district. Talkeetna was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in April of 1993. I think that the retention of this status is critical to our tourist industry, not to mention our way of life. This cannot be accomplished without planning and forethought in a public forum. The most inclusive public forum we have is our Community Council. While the power of the council is limited, its capacity to enhance communication among the citizens of Talkeetna is not. As a council member, I am most interested in the quality and effectiveness of this communication, whereby we all learn to appreciate each others needs and values, and work together to make this a place where we all can live. After fifteen years, I feel I am finally getting a handle on who we are as a community. I feel ready to listen and act, not as an individual with a personal agenda, but as a person who respects the many ways of life that comprise our community and wants to live in a place that accommodates these diversities.
This town is famous for coming together in times of individual need. At these times very few people withhold help based on political or social differences. We need to hold that same spirit when planning for the future of our town, and while meeting the changing needs of our selves and our fellow citizens in the present.
My wife Noelle and I settled here in 1996. We could have chosen anywhere in the country and decided on Talkeetna because of the great people and strong sense of community. Since then we have built a home, founded a successful business, and started a family. Our business is Alaska Nature Guides, offering guided hikes in Talkeetna and Denali State Park. My favorite pastimes are being at home with my family, fishing, hunting, making music, community involvement, photography, hiking, and snowmachine logging on the Back 40.
I am running for Talkeetna Community Council because I love Talkeetna, I want to give back to the community, and I feel that I can be an effective board member. I have a solid understanding of Talkeetna from involvement in a wide variety of community organizations. My temperament and skills will help me to contribute to the council. I am an even-keeled, reasonable person with moderate views and sound judgement. I have a rational, common-sense approach and a knack for problem solving. I am a good listener and will weigh issues objectively and fairly.
Our greatest challenge is to keep Talkeetna’s small town character and identity and the Talkeetna way of life in the face of constant change. This has taken a lot of hard work and vigilance over the years, and I am now ready to do my part. Big issues we will face include Talkeetna State Airport expansion, rising crime, and Alaska Railroad land use issues such as the Village Park, the riverfront, and their East Talkeetna lease lots. I will take a collaborative approach to these problems by gathering information and community perspectives. I will promote an atmosphere of open communication, trust, and respect within the council and the community. I will uphold the council’s influence by maintaining our good reputation and through actions that truly represent the will of the Talkeetna community. I would be honored to be part of the voice of the Talkeetna community. Please vote.
Meghan Vaughan is a lifelong Talkeetnan. She graduated from Su Valley High in 2002. She graduated from Montana State University in Bozeman in 2006. She moved back to Talkeetna and worked as a manager at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, then worked at the day care center and is now substitute teaching at Talkeetna Elementary School. She plans on staying around and hopes for a full time position at Talkeetna Elementary in the near future. She is a year round resident, is vested in Talkeetna and feels like she has something to give back to her community. “I want to be more active in the decision making process in the town I was born and raised in and am so personally invested in. I also believe it is important to have young voices represented on the Community Council and I hope to provide that.”
“I feel I am too new to the game to really pin-point specific town issues. I can see how much Talkeetna has changed in the last 25 years, I can see that there are some pressing issues and I look forward to hearing all sides of these issues and helping the council make informed decisions. ”