A sign directs voters at Soldotna City Hall during the special Field House election on March 5, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

A sign directs voters at Soldotna City Hall during the special Field House election on March 5, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Candidate qualifications ordinance postponed

Johnson said the code’s “deficiencies” were brought to his attention during the 2019 assembly election.

An ordinance changing candidate qualifications for local elections has been postponed by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly.

The ordinance would require that candidates for local office live in the borough for one year prior to running for local office. The residency extension would double the current requirement of 180 days.

Assembly member Brent Johnson, the ordinance’s sponsor, postponed the vote on the ordinance until the Feb. 25 meeting to allow service area boards and the school board to weigh in.

Extending the requirement to a year would align the borough with other boroughs across the state, such as the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Fairbanks North Star Borough, Haines, Petersburg, Kodiak, Ketchikan and Homer, Johnson said in a Dec. 26 memo to the assembly.

Johnson said the code’s “deficiencies” were brought to his attention during the 2019 assembly election.

A longer residency requirement serves important local interests, Johnson said in his memo, and will “afford greater voter knowledge of candidates and greater candidate knowledge of the needs of the constituency while also protecting constitutional rights of both the voter and the candidate.”

“Candidates for local office should be familiar with the issues and challenges facing their constituents and should not be able to move to an area right before an election for personal gain,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s ordinance also seeks to provide a clearer understanding of what a resident is, with an amendment that mirrors state law, defining a “residence as actual physical presence and habitation at a specific location in the borough.”

This ordinance, if passed, will impact the elections of school board, service areas, borough assembly and borough mayor.

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