Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Jake Thompson, candidate for the Kenai Peninsula Borough assembly, waves to passersby at the corner of the Kenai Spur Highway and the Main Street Loop Oct. 1, 2014 in Kenai, Alaska. Thompson lost his bid for the seat.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Jake Thompson, candidate for the Kenai Peninsula Borough assembly, waves to passersby at the corner of the Kenai Spur Highway and the Main Street Loop Oct. 1, 2014 in Kenai, Alaska. Thompson lost his bid for the seat.

Gilman, Welles take assembly seats

  • By DAN BALMER
  • Wednesday, October 8, 2014 1:11am
  • News

Stan Welles and Blaine Gilman have come out ahead in their Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly races, while voters in Homer approved Kelly Cooper.

After Tuesday’s preliminary vote count, Welles led the Sterling and Funny River district with 48 percent of the votes, with 493 votes. LaDawn Druce claimed 33 percent of the votes with 334 votes total. Marty Anderson collected 18 percent of the votes with 187 votes total from the five of six precincts reporting.

Cooper, who was running unopposed, carried the Homer district with 98 percent of the votes, receiving 831 votes total.

Unofficial results have Gilman as the winner of the Kenai district with 49 percent of the 482 total votes. Jake Thompson received 41 percent and Grayling Bassett received 10 percent of the votes.

Gilman said he saw the votes he received as a mandate for funding education to the cap. He said the results were not a surprise as he sees the Kenai community as one that wants education properly funded.

Moving into his term Gilman said he is going to fight for the platform he promised. He also said he is very thankful to the people that supported his election.

Thompson ran on a conservative platform, touting fiscal responsibility. Bassett said he was looking to put his background in public policy to use in the public sector.

This will not be Gilman’s first time in public service. He served on the Kenai City Council from 2003-2005, a term he recalls as a contentious one. He, and the city, were dealing with the deficit left in sales tax revenue when Kmart went bankrupt and closed its Kenai location.

Before the results were in, voters commented on the fresh faces running in the assembly elections.

Ken Harper, a Kenai resident, said he was pleased with the new faces that showed up in this year’s elections. He said he liked that younger candidates, Thompson and Bassett were running. He said with new candidates come the possibility of new ideas being put on the table.

Sue Carter, a Kenai resident, said she voted for Blaine Gilman because she was close with his father, Donald Gilman, a former borough mayor. She said she believes Gilman will lead the community in a positive direction.

“He supports families and education,” Carter said.

Ed Witbeck, a Kenai resident, voted for Jake Thompson who he said “is a family man.” He said Thompson knows what’s going on.

While he technically hasn’t won yet, Stan Welles said he has accepted the numbers, which show him as the winner of the Sterling and Funny River district assembly seat with 48 percent of the votes.

He celebrated Election Day with dinner at Louie’s Steak and Seafood Restaurant with supporters. He said planned to spend a quiet night at home with his wife Nikki playing Scrabble, but decided to accept the dinner invitation. He said he enjoyed his time campaigning and visiting with constituents. Welles is relatively new to his district and said he couldn’t have won without support from former assembly member Charlie Pierce.

“I don’t like to count my chickens before they hatch,” Welles said. “I really appreciate the support and guidance I have received. After I got home I received four messages from current assembly members, which I thought was pretty neat.”

Druce received 33 percent of the votes for the assembly seat.

She said the area is unique with many different perspectives and Pierce’s support of Welles helped him to win.

Druce said she wouldn’t campaign any differently and would consider running again.

For now she plans to stay involved as a concerned community member and she hopes there’s a “good mix” on the assembly to keep making the community a great place.

“I have no regrets and wouldn’t do anything differently,” she said. “I’m grateful to everyone who helped me and kept me motivated.”

She said she was disappointed that voter turnout was low — at 25 percent.

Marty Anderson, who captured 18 percent of the votes, said he thinks Welles will do well in the seat. His only concern is whether Welles has been around long enough to understand the magnitude of population growth expected for the area.

“Stan will do a good job,” he said. “He is a good conservative that believes in smaller government and will represent the district well.”

Anderson said he doesn’t see himself running for an assembly seat again. He last ran in 2005 and lost to Grace Merkes. He said he probably could have campaigned more but had been so busy with his business Alaska Technical Training.

Voters in Sterling liked Welles’ plan to reduce government spending.

Sterling resident Rose Wilson said she voted for Welles because she felt his conservative views best represented the district.

Jim and Myrna Heilala said they favored Welles to represent them for borough assembly because they liked his plan to reduce government spending.

“I like that he is an engineer and not a teacher,” Myrna Heilala said. “We don’t need to give more power to teachers.”

 

Reach Dan Balmer at daniel.balmer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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