Jesse Bjorkman speaks at a borough work session on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. Bjorkman, who has held the seat since 2019, was elected to the Alaska Senate last year. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Jesse Bjorkman speaks at a borough work session on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. Bjorkman, who has held the seat since 2019, was elected to the Alaska Senate last year. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Assembly to choose Bjorkman successor Tuesday

Bjorkman was elected to the Alaska Senate last year

Members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will on Tuesday appoint someone to be Nikiski’s next representative on the body. Applications for the seat were solicited by the borough after Jesse Bjorkman, who has held the seat since 2019, was elected to the Alaska Senate last year. Bjorkman’s resignation from the assembly is effective Jan. 16 at 11:59 p.m.

In all, four people have app lied to fill the vacancy left by Bjorkman — which will ultimately be decided by assembly vote — including three who filed on Tuesday, the day the filing period closed. All candidates will have an opportunity to address the assembly before Tuesday’s vote.

Lenora Niessen is a former owner and manager of Frontier Business Systems, Inc. who currently sits on the Nikiski Advisory Planning Commission. Niessen helped create Eagle Academy, a charter school within the Anchorage School District, where she said she developed skills relevant to a seat on the borough assembly.

“I hope that by serving, I can utilize my skills to represent needs and concerns of the people of Nikiski in Borough matters,” Niessen wrote in her candidate statement.

Heidi Covey is the owner of Veggies & Stuff, and currently holds the Kenai Peninsula Borough Road Service Area’s at-large seat. Covey also sits on the Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas Community Advisory Council and chaired the Alaska Division of Elections’ Nikiski precinct for six years.

“Representing Nikiski as an Assembly member is a bi-partisan role and as the representative I look forward to engaging in dialog with my Nikiski neighbors to improve essential services and to promote economic growth and opportunity within our community,” Covey wrote.

William Hubler is a swimming and diving coach at Kenai Central High School who has worked for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District for more than 30 years. Per Hubler’s application he is a building representative for the Kenai Peninsula Educational Support Association and also serves on the Kenai Central High School site council.

“I’ve seen a lot of growth and change over the years,” Hubler wrote in his candidate statement. “Watched areas develop and grow. Seen roads built through areas I played in as youth and watched homes go up where I used to fish, hunt and camp. I would like to contribute to future development but also help to preserve our unique way of life here.”

Peter Ribbens is a senior environmental professional with Insight Environmental and a former emergency response coordinator with Tesoro Alaska. He holds a bachelor’s degree in geology and a master’s degree in marine biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and served on the Nikiski Fire Service Area Board.

“My goals on the Assembly will be guided by a long-term vision toward the needs of the people of Nikiski and the Borough,” Ribbens wrote in his candidate statement. “I want to work toward operational flexibility to address contingencies. Supporting individual rights of all within our community and a strong community structure is very important to me.”

Sitting Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly members will review applications and interview candidates for the District 3 vacancy during a committee meeting on Jan. 17 at 2 p.m. in the Betty J. Glick Assembly Chambers. The interviews can also be streamed live via Zoom with ID 884 7373 9641 and passcode 671108.

Assembly members during their regular meeting Tuesday will then appoint a candidate to fill the vacancy. A successful candidate must receive a majority of votes — at least five — and will serve until the next regular election in October.

Full candidate applications can be found on the Kenai Peninsula Borough clerk’s website at

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at

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