Gary Knopp, pictured at the Sept. 30 candidate forum at the Kenai Visitor Center, will represent District 1 on the borough assembly beginning Oct. 19.

Gary Knopp, pictured at the Sept. 30 candidate forum at the Kenai Visitor Center, will represent District 1 on the borough assembly beginning Oct. 19.

Absentee ballots counted; Knopp wins District 1 race

The final tally of Kenai Peninsula Borough-wide votes Tuesday showed Gary Knopp, Brandii Holmdahl and Willy Dunne to be the new borough assembly representatives.

The three emerged as the winners on election night, but the absentee votes had not yet been tallied. Although the absentee voters favored Kenn Carpenter from Seward to beat Holmdahl and David Wartinbee from Kalifornsky Beach to beat Knopp, the overall results did not change.

The borough-wide voter turnout far exceeded the usual non-mayoral year turnout. More than 25 percent of voters came out to vote. In 2013, 20.8 percent of the borough’s registered voters turned out; in 2012, the total was approximately 13.35 percent.

Holmdahl, a corporate quality manager for Icicle Seafoods in Seward, will replace current representative Sue McClure in District 6, which includes the majority of the eastern peninsula and part of Sterling. After absentee votes were tallied, she claimed 53.5 percent of the vote, with Carpenter taking 46.1 percent.

Dunne will represent District 9, a massive district which includes Anchor Point, Diamond Ridge, Fritz Creek and all of the peninsula south of Kachemak Bay. Dunne, a fisheries biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, will replace representative Mako Haggerty, who reached the term limit. He took 58.5 percent of the vote, while opponent Dawson Slaughter took 41 percent of the vote.

Knopp, who will represent District 1, which includes K-Beach, part of Soldotna and part of Kenai, won by a narrow margin. Wartinbee trailed by four votes. Knopp said he was glad to have a four-way race but was unsure of the outcome until the final count. He said he was pleased with the high turnout.

“I think we tried to emphasize that there were issues,” Knopp said. “If they wanted to have their voice heard with the representative of their choice, I think that’s what brought them out, and people understood that all their votes count.”

On Oct. 19, Knopp will replace current representative Kelly Wolf, who came in third place with 20.25 percent of the total vote. Knopp will return to the borough assembly after having left the legislative body in 2012.

Robin Davis, who came in fourth place in the District 1 race with 19.35 percent of the vote, said he was disappointed but enthusiastically supported Knopp. Davis said that when he first decided to run, he met with Knopp to ask his advice as a former borough assembly representative. At the time, Knopp said he was also planning to run but encouraged Davis to run anyway, Davis said.

“The fact that Gary (Knopp) was saying he wanted another competitor shows that he wants the best person representing the Kenai Peninsula Borough District 1,” Davis said. “If it’s him, great. If it’s someone else, great. He wants the best for the Kenai Peninsula Borough. That says a great deal about the man.”

 

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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