Incumbents will fill the three seats on the Kenai Peninsula Borough School Board up for grabs in Tuesday’s election.
Absentee ballots have not yet been counted but unofficial results show Penny Vadla, who ran unopposed in this year’s election, has been re-elected for the district of Soldotna. Joe Arness, also unopposed, will be representing the district of Nikiski on the board, and Bill Holt will be representing the central district.
Vadla carried the Soldotna district with 96.43 percent of the votes, of which she received 810. Arness captured 93.7 percent of the Nikiski district votes, of which he received 744. Bill Holt, beat out newcomer Damon Yerly for the Kasilof seat with 63.77 percent of the votes, of which he received 551, while Yerly had 35.30 percent of the votes, of which he received 305 votes.
Arness was elected board president in his last term, and has a total of 23 successive years in public service. Vadla collectively has 11 years under her belt.
The three incumbents, who have worked together for two previous terms, said they believe the district is going in the right direction. Yerly. who ran to ensure the board maintains a viable and competitive district for the future of his two children, said changes could be made.
“I don’t see a dead end with this position,” Holt said. “These are all things we have been working on for four or five years and I just want to see them continue to move forward.”
Yerly said he appreciated all of the hundreds of voters who turned out on Tuesday to support him. He said with Holt’s history on the board, it would be a tough race to win.
“I won’t stop trying to represent my district,” Yerly said. “I plan to run in the future.”
Arness said he is looking forward to the next term.
For the next year the school board will be working on choosing a new superintendent and Arness said he is excited to see the results of that process.
Vadla and Holt could not be reached for comment.
For the Central Kenai Peninsula residents who turned out for Tuesday’s election, most said they did not have strong opinions about the candidates.
Shawn Reynolds, who voted in Kasilof, said he was pleased with the fact that Yerly and Holt were both options in his district.
Ron Leonard, a Nikiski resident, he did not have much to say about Arness but had personal a policy of voting for uncontested runners.
Bonnie West, also a Nikiski resident said she is impressed by anyone who “steps up to the plate.” If no one decides to oppose a candidate, she will acknowledge the commitment by placing a vote toward him or her.
Linda Raymaker, a Soldotna resident, said more people should have been involved in the races for the school board seats. In her district, Vadla ran unopposed.
While she was not comfortable disclosing who her final votes went toward, Raymaker did say she was impressed at how the school board was handling their responsibilities.
“There are many challenges that come with that position, and they are working hard to meet those challenges,” Raymaker said.
Vern Miller, a Nikiski resident, said he is a longtime friend of Arness.
“He is a voice of reason on the board,” Miller said. “He is very seasoned and has been here a long time and knows the people.”
Penny Power, a Nikiski resident, said she didn’t have any complaints about how the school board is maintaining the status of the school district. She said the schools have very high standards for their students, specifically in the areas of math and English.
Holt who sat around a bonfire at the Tsalteshi Trails on Tuesday evening as the election results came in said he was pleased to hear he was re-elected to the school board.
Holt said there is a lot of work to do in the next term, but he enjoys the work he does on the school board. He said he was not completely surprised by the results. He said he has been working and living in the community he has been able to get to know his neighbors well.
Holt said he is looking forward to the next three years and making sure the board choice of the next superintendent goes smoothly.
Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly,firstname.lastname@example.org.