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City council candidate profile: Henry S. Batchelor Jr.

Christine Trudeau

Henry S. Batchelor Jr. didn’t originally plan to run for city council. It wasn’t until he began to tune into city finance director Duane Wright’s ongoing effort to collect city sales tax that Bachelor Jr. decided he needed to get involved.

“Back in August, I got a little bit upset over some things that were happening,” Batchelor Jr. said. “The fact that we had multiple members on council that were incompliant with tax code but were going to make legislation for tax amnesty. It struck me as being borderline ethical."

In August, the city council considered an ordinance that would have created an amnesty program for people who had not been paying sales tax. Although it’s true that the ordinance didn’t come from the finance committee, it did specify that the amnesty wouldn’t apply to members of city council or their immediate family members.

The council voted 4-3 not to introduce the amnesty ordinance. The council did introduce a revised version in the most recent city council meeting that would waive fees, penalties, and interest for businesses that meet a certain criteria, but it would not forgive the unpaid sales tax revenue.

Either way, Batchelor Jr. said that these types of questions always need to work through their committees. That’s the type of approach he wants to bring to the council.

“If there is something that has to be changed, we have to take our time and see what's being changed, why it's being changed, and how we're going to make it fair for everybody, including the city,” Batchelor Jr. said. “We can't be making knee jerk reactions.”

Batchelor Jr. is originally from the Northeast. He’s a registered dietician and works as the WIC coordinator for YKHC. Although he’s never served on a city council before, he said that he’s been part of a board of directors and worked on committees before outside of Bethel.

Batchelor Jr. said that at first he didn’t believe he had the right to get involved with city politics because he didn’t think he was staying in the region long term. But he believes it’s his civic duty to serve. Batchelor Jr. believes that Bethel has room for improvement, and that the city government needs to be held accountable to uphold the city’s ordinances and regulations.

“One of my biggest pet peeves ever since I came here four years ago is this excuse where when something's not going right, when something's not being done correctly, people say ‘it's Bethel,’” Batchelor Jr. said. “That can't be an excuse for not doing things the correct way.”

Batchelor Jr. said that he came to love Bethel in part because it reminds him of the Jersey Shore communities of his youth. He wants to be a part of a council where the public is encouraged to get involved, experts are brought in, and committees are utilized. He believes that city government should be a collaborative approach, and that the council should try to look at each issue holistically, with the city’s best interests at heart.

“We have good people,” Batchelor Jr. said. “We have some problems here, but nothing insurmountable.”

Because Batchelor Jr. is a write-in candidate, his name will not be on the official ballot. However, since he’s certified, votes cast on his behalf will count toward the election. The city council election is on Tuesday, Oct. 4 Early voting is ongoing at Bethel City Hall until then.

Will McCarthy was a temporary news reporter at KYUK. Previously, he worked as a furniture mover, producer, and freelance journalist. Will's written for the New York Times, National Geographic, and Texas Monthly. He holds a master's degree in journalism from UC Berkeley.