Campaign signs decorate the outside of Paradisos Restaurant on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Campaign signs decorate the outside of Paradisos Restaurant on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Election season nears conclusion

Last day to vote is Tuesday

Kenai Peninsula residents will join voters around the state and country when they cast ballots in the Nov. 8 general election Tuesday. Local seats in the Alaska Legislature, as well as a gubernatorial race and U.S. House and Senate races are on the ballot, alongside the question of whether or not to hold a statewide constitutional convention.

Alaska State House

All three of the Kenai Peninsula’s seats in the Alaska House of Representatives are up for grabs this year due to redistricting, which occurs once every 10 years after the U.S. Census is collected.

Soldotna City Council member Justin Ruffridge is challenging incumbent Rep. Ron Gillham to represent House District 7, which includes Kenai and Soldotna. The two candidates are both Republicans.

On the southern Kenai Peninsula, former Homer City Council member Louie Flora and conflict resolution practitioner Ginger Bryant are challenging incumbent Rep. Sarah Vance for her District 6 seat. That district includes Kasilof, Homer and Seldovia.

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, is running unopposed for reelection to the House in District 8, which includes Nikiski, Hope and Moose Pass. That district previously included Seward, which now votes with Kodiak and Cordova.

Alaska State Senate

Running to represent the central Kenai Peninsula in the Alaska State Senate are Tuckerman Babcock and Jesse Bjorkman. That seat is currently held by Sen. President Peter Micciche, who announced earlier this year that he would not seek reelection.

Babcock, a former chief of staff to Gov. Mike Dunleavy, and Bjorkman, a current Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member, are running for the State Senate’s District D seat. That district includes Kenai, Soldotna, Moose Pass and Hope.

Governor

Alaskans will also cast ballots Tuesday for their gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial ticket of choice. Incumbent Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican, is running alongside Nancy Dahlstrom, a former state lawmaker and Department of Corrections commissioner.

Challengers include nonpartisan candidate Bill Walker and running mate Heidi Drygas, as well as Les Gara and running mate Jessica Cook.

Former Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce is also running as a Republican. Edie Grunwald, Pierce’s pick for lieutenant governor, suspended her campaign last week, citing “recent circumstances” surrounding Pierce. Pierce’s former assistant alleged in an Oct. 21 lawsuit that he sexually harassed her while they worked together. Grunwald encouraged supporters to vote for Dunleavy.

Ballot Measure 1

Also on the ballot this year is the question of whether or not a state constitutional convention should be held. That question is put before voters every 10 years and would see delegates propose changes to Alaska’s founding document.

Those who oppose the measure say a constitutional convention would open the document to outside influence and potentially threaten Alaskans’ existing freedoms, while those in favor say a convention would provide an opportunity to address some of the state’s biggest concerns, such as Alaska Permanent Fund dividend payments and judicial reform.

If Alaskans vote in favor of calling a constitutional convention, any proposed changes to the document would also need to be approved by voters. Convention supporters say that process is one of the safeguards against unwanted amendments.

Federal races

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola is running for reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives against former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Nick Begich III, both Republicans, and Libertarian Chris Bye. Peltola was elected during a special election earlier this year to serve the remainder of the late Rep. Don Young’s term in the U.S. House.

Candidates vying for Alaska’s open U.S. Senate seat include incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski and challenger Kelly Tshibaka, both Republicans. Also on the ballot are Republican Buzz Kelley — who suspended his campaign in September — and Democrat Pat Chesbro.

Ranked choice voting

Voters will rank candidates for state office as part of the Nov. 8 election.

The ranked choice ballot shows a grid of bubbles, with one row for each candidate and one column for preference order. Voters fill in the bubble in the “1st Choice” column that corresponds to their first-choice candidate. Voters then move to the second column and fill in the bubble that corresponds to their second-choice candidate, and so on. Voters can rank up to four candidates, or just rank one, two or three candidates.

If a candidate receives more than 50% of the first-choice votes, that candidate would be declared the winner of the election.

If no candidate receives more than 50% of the first-choice votes, the candidate who received the least number of first-choice votes is eliminated. Then, the voters who ranked the eliminated candidate as their first choice would have their second-choice candidate votes distributed to the remaining candidates. The process will continue until one candidate emerges with more than 50% of the votes.

Polling places

Polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Precinct number Precinct Name Polling place name Polling place address City
07-005 Central Soldotna Sports Center 538 Arena Ave Soldotna
07-010 K Beach Soldotna Sports Center 538 Arena Ave Soldotna
07-015 Kenai No. 1 Kenai Mall 11312 Kenai Spur Hwy Kenai
07-020 Kenai No. 2 Challenger Learning Center 9711 Kenai Spur Hwy Kenai
07-025 Kenai No. 3 Kenai Mall 11312 Kenai Spur Hwy Kenai
07-030

Soldotna

Soldotna Public Library 235 N Binkley St Soldotna
08-035 Bear Creek Bear Creek Fire Hall 13105 Seward Hwy

Seward

08-040 Cooper Landing Cooper Landing Community Hall Bean Creek Rd Cooper Landing
08-045 Funny River No. 1 Funny River Community Center 35850 Pioneer Access Soldotna
08-050 Funny River No. 2 Soldotna Prep School 426 W Redoubt Ave Soldotna
08-055 Hope Hope Retreat Center A Ave Hope
08-060 Mackey Lake Soldotna Prep School 426 W Redoubt Ave Soldotna
08-065 Moose Pass Moose Pass Community Hall Mi 29.5 Seward Hwy Moose Pass
08-070 Nikiski Nikiski Community Rec Center 50097 Kenai Spur Hwy Nikiski
08-075 Salamatof Nikiski Community Rec Center 50097 Kenai Spur Hwy Nikiski
08-080 Sterling No. 1 Sterling Community Center 38377 Swanson River Rd Sterling
08-085 Sterling No. 2 Sterling Community Center 38377 Swanson River Rd Sterling

More information about the Nov. 8 General Election, including sample ballots, can be found on the Alaska Division of Elections website at elections.alaska.gov.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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