Meet the 2017 Valdez City Council Candidates

The City of Valdez Municipal Election is May 2nd, 2017

KVAK Radio asked the candidates running for city council  to tell us a little bit about themselves and share their thoughts on several questions.  Find below their exact responses as provided to KVAK Radio.

There are three vacancies available on the Valdez City Council.

Doug Davies

I was born in Missoula, Montana.  My father moved us to Ketchikan in about 1951.  We were in Seward for the earthquake.  I moved to Valdez almost 20 years ago.  Most of my life has been spent in the Merchant Marine with side trips into public health, business education and management and industrial project management.

Question #1:  What are three main challenges for City of Valdez in the next five years? As a Council member, how do you plan to address these challenges?

  1. Affordable, clean and accessible housing.  The type that helps to build and grow young families and takes care of our seniors.
  2. “Brick and mortar” business development. We need to look outside of tourism and fishing and build the types of businesses that attract solid business investment that builds our tax base.
  3. Sustaining our public schools and local college. The recent actions, both at the State and Federal levels pose a direct threat to our local schools.  Once again, the State is cutting funding and reducing services and the Feds are cutting funding and lowering the level of services provided.

The solution to these issues requires a “hand and glove” approach.  Housing and business development go hand in hand.  With very few exceptions, if an investment by the City does not produce good jobs, to attract and retain young families and build our tax base, then we probably shouldn’t be making the investment.  At the same time, an influx of young families will drive our schools to “take up the slack” left by the State and Federal governments.  By building our tax base, we will continue to have the ability to fill the gaps left by the State and the Feds and continue to provide our students a top grade education.

Question #2:  What experience do you have with budgeting, investments, and finance?
As a successful project manager, I have extensive experience in budget development and implementation.  I have been responsible for clients money, at times amounting to more than $6M, in mostly industrial projects.  As a management consultant, I have worked with developing and struggling businesses to develop sound accounting and management systems, develop realistic budgets and implement realistic business plans.

 Sue Ellen Montes

First and foremost, Sue Ellen Montes is a woman who is motivated by challenges and has demonstrated her abilities to effectively meet them. She possesses the flexibility and critical thinking skills necessary to accurately assess situations, the ability to research them, and the communication skills necessary to convey relevant information in an accurate and personable way.

Sue Ellen graduated Cum laude with her BA from Mansfield University, is a lifetime member of Psi Chi honors fraternity, and possesses her Masters of Science degree in Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysis from Michigan State University with certificates in Homeland Security and Critical Thinking. She has served communities across Pennsylvania as founder and advocate for the Bradford County Drilling Awareness Team and the Gas Truth of Central Pennsylvania, where she acted as a liaison between gas drilling companies, activist groups, citizens, and federal, state, and local politicians and lawmakers. She also served as an informational host and tour guide for organizations including Time Magazine and the BBC.

Sue Ellen is presently a writer, a researcher, a substitute cab driver, an Eagles member, and a permanent resident of Valdez. She looks forward to dedicating much of her time and expertise to working as a team member to solve challenges. Her goal is to provide an unbiased ear and a well-informed voice for all of Valdez’s amazing residents!

Question #1:  What are three main challenges for City of Valdez in the next five years? As a Council member, how do you plan to address these challenges?

  1. Housing availability
  • Delegate a committee to expedite a solution to the Aleutian village crisis by creating three plausible and acceptable solutions for a community vote.
  • Schedule a think tank meeting to discuss possible sites and financial options for new housing to be built within the next five years.
  • Development of a ‘Neighborhood Beautification Program’ which offers improvement grants or services to homeowners who are low income, seniors, or disabled
  1. Small business retention and attraction

Our small businesses are the backbone of our community and many have dissipated over the last few years.

  • Setup a business facilitation office to negotiate the challenges of creating legal and profitable businesses. A business facilitation office could be funded through taxes, grants, or chamber of commerce memberships and would therefore be available to offer services to potential entrepreneurs for free or a small fee.
  • Incentives such as tax breaks, discounts on fees and permits, or small loan availability for new or ‘loyal’ businesses (over 5 years).
  1. Solid employment opportunities and incentives
  • Initiation of a Local Hire rule that suggests that all local resources for job opportunities be exhausted before outside applicants
  • Training programs for prospective local employees and assistance for those with employment blocks

Question #2:  What experience do you have with budgeting, investments, and finance?

I have been trained in Masters level economics, statistics, and analysis. Through my education and experience, I have acquired a firm understanding of budgeting, investments, and finance. I also have over 20+ years of experience in various management positions where I have acted as a purchaser, and was also responsible for all daily, weekly, and monthly reports in regards to sales and revenue and also prepared all reports for audits. I was also a small business owner who attributed my success to Bradford County Action Small Business Training Certification which gave me the ability to stay under budget by using creative spending strategies while still turning out quality goods and services.

In order to invest in the future success of Valdez, priorities need to be evaluated in a way that would not only mean spending within the budget, but would also require investing in resources that will boost our city’s economy. These financial priorities include:

  • securing an acceptable standard of living for residents
  • assuring that residents have first chance at open employment opportunities
  • offering incentives to retain small business and to attract new ones
  • insuring public safety.

Jim Shirrell

Married to Pam 37 years, son Jim (27) born in Valdez & graduated Valdez Public Schools lives in Olympia Washington.

We have lived in Valdez for 28 years. Pam and I are retired (3 years) and have elected to make Valdez our home in retirement.

Employment Experience:

  • 4 years – Contract Administrator, Teck Alaska Resources Inc. (Red Dog Mine)
  • 15 years – Alyeska Pipeline Service Company Inc. (Valdez Marine Terminal)
    • Financial / Business Analyst
    • Buyer (Industrial goods & services)
    • Strategic Sourcing Analyst
    • Sector Manager (SERVS)
  • 5 years – Branch Manager, First National Bank of Alaska (Valdez)


  • BA- Law and Justice, Central Washington University
  • MBA- Willamette University

Valdez Public Service:

  • Valdez City Council (5 terms – 4 in late 90’s early 2000’s, 1- 2015/16)
  • Valdez Senior Center Board (Manager (Volunteer) /President 1.5 years/ Treasure to present)
  • City of Valdez (COV) Economic Diversification Committee (2016 to present)
  • Alaska Gasline Port Authority (2015 to present)
  • COV Permanent Fund Committee (off & on 1996-2016)
  • Mayor’s Task Force for Health Care Planning
  • Valdez Schools Budget Committees (Late 90’s- early2000’s)
  • Valdez Hospital Design/Construction Task Force
  • COV Planning & Zoning (1992-96)
  • Valdez Medical Clinic Design/Construction Task Force
  • Valdez Convention & Visitor Bureau (1990 to 95)
  • Valdez Chamber of Commerce (1990 to 94)

Question #1:  What are three main challenges for City of Valdez in the next five years? As a Council member, how do you plan to address these challenges?

  1. Achieve economic diversification and improved quality of life through redevelopment
  1. Improve quality and availability of affordable housing
  1. Reduce cost to live in Valdez

We as a community are poised to move Valdez forward. The settling of long standing tax litigation has positioned us to realize economic diversification and improved quality of life for Valdez. To address housing needs.  To leverage our new harbor expansion to expand the fisheries and marine service sectors.   To redevelop our core business area.   And to realize the unique nature of Valdez as a year around recreation destination.

We have received a significant financial settlement.  Our challenge is to define our desired future and make that happen.  To come together. Community Members, City Administration & Employees and Council working together where Community Members input drives the future outcome.   I know –  another planning process & report – OMG.  However the community must engage to get it right.  Without your engagement it will be a Council & Administration plan made by well-meaning individuals that may or may not represent your wants and needs.

I am committing to you to a public process that engages the community to drive our future.

 Question #2:  What experience do you have with budgeting, investments, and finance?

I hold an MBA from Atkinson Graduate School at Willamette University and have 24 years of work experience in the commercial business sector with the banking, oil and mining industries.  I have served on the Valdez Permanent Fund Committee for approximately 15 years.  Over the last 20 years have served on the Valdez City Council 5 terms that translate to 10 budgeting cycles.  And have gained budget and policy experience  in the course of 28 years of public service on Valdez  boards and task forces.



Candidate did not Return Survey



Candidate did not Return Survey



Candidate did not Return Survey