Hibbert, Smalley, Blakeley poised to join assembly

Norm Blakeley, Brent Hibbert, Hal Smalley, Kelly Cooper and Kenn Carpenter will fill five of the nine seats on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, according to unofficial election results.

Voters in five assembly districts chose their representatives for the assembly Tuesday. Two — Cooper, of Homer, and Carpenter, of Seward — were unchallenged, but the other three districts had two candidates in each race.

In District 1-Kalifornsky, unofficial results showed Brent Hibbert keeping his seat on the assembly, defeating challenger Dan Castimore. Hibbert took the seat in January, replacing former assembly member Gary Knopp, and will hold the seat for another year before another election.

Hibbert, the owner of Alaska Cab, claimed about 46 percent of the vote in the district, which includes most of the Kalifornsky area and a section of Ridgeway. Castimore took about 35 percent, and a third candidate who had previously announced her intention to withdraw but whose name still appeared on the ballot, Kate Veh, received 17.8 percent.

Hibbert said he was happy to be stay on the assembly and was happy that the race against Castimore was so clean.

“I’ll look forward to serving for another year,” Hibbert said.

Castimore wasn’t available to comment Tuesday night.

In District 2-Kenai, Hal Smalley emerged in the lead for the seat to represent Kenai on the borough assembly, but the race was very close. Without absentee ballots, he held a narrow edge on opponent Duane Bannock, taking about 48 percent of the vote to Bannock’s 42.5 percent, with a difference of about 70 votes.

Smalley said he knew the race would be close. He and Bannock have faced off before in races for Kenai City Council and don’t share much ideologically, but Smalley called him “a worthy opponent.”

“I was hoping (the campaign) might be successful,” he said. “I wouldn’t do anything differently.”

Bannock pointed out that Smalley’s victory highlights that term limits haven’t proved to be effective on the borough assembly — he reached the term limit, waited one term and is now back on the assembly.

“The victory that I will take out of this, for my beloved city of Kenai, is frankly that term limits suck,” he said. “…Likely (Smalley) would have run three years ago, and likely he would have won it. So that really strikes a blow against the idiots who think term limits are a good idea. Because they’re not. And the community wanted what he had to say, and I absolutely stand by that.”

He said he was happy for mayoral candidate Charlie Pierce, who was leading the race into the runoff against Linda Hutchings on Tuesday night, and for Hibbert and Blakeley. Bannock said the narrow race in Kenai shows that many voters in District 2 supported his ideas.

In District 5, Blakeley will take the assembly seat, replacing former member Stan Welles. Unofficial results show that he took about 57 percent of the vote to opponent Leslie Morton’s 41 percent.

Blakeley said he met with Morton Tuesday and that they agreed on some issues and that whichever of them won, they would “probably have some mindsets in common,” he said.

He said he was happy to see that Pierce was leading the mayoral election and that he would support him through the runoff, which is scheduled to take place Oct. 24.

“I support Charlie and I’ll be out supporting him (for the runoff),” he said. “I’m excited to get to work.”

Morton declined to comment Tuesday night.

Clarion reporter Ben Boettger contributed reporting. Reach him at ben.boettger@peninsulaclarion.com. Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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