Kenai city council incumbents Henry Knackstedt and Tim Navarre will retain their seats for a further three year term, while challenger Bob McIntosh said he plans to continue his political activity and may make another council run next year.
With absentee ballots still to be counted Tuesday night, Knackstedt was the top vote-getter with 327 votes, while Navarre followed with 290 and McIntosh with 194.
After several years as a Kenai airport and planning and zoning commissioner, Knackstedt won his first council term in 2014. He said he “had a lot more encouragment this time around than the previous time.”
“I’ve been here all my life, but as far as being on council I was the newcomer,” Knackstedt said. “A lot of people may have known the name, but they didn’t know who I was or what I was really for. This time around, I was clearly a known quantity and people felt a lot more comfortable about who I was and what I’m doing.”
Navarre is another long-time council member, entering his third term with this election. McIntosh has never held public office, but ran unsuccessfully for the council in 2016, winning 258 votes in that year’s five-way race. Though Kenai candidates don’t compete directly against one another — the two top vote-getters win the two council seats that open each year — McIntosh campaigned with the goal of unseating Navarre. In one of Kenai’s three voting precincts — precinct two — he trailed Navarre by five votes.
McIntosh said that precinct 2 — the area of Kenai north of Beaver Loop Road and east of Main Street Loop — is an area where he worked with a neighborhood watch organization, and it’s also the location of Lawton Acres, where a long-running land dispute between prospective developers and residents who wish to preserve a local city-owned woods and meadow flared up again this year in city council meetings. In that argument, McIntosh gave public comment in favor of preserving the property, while Navarre voted against preservation measures introduced by council member Mike Boyle.
Navarre said he also campaigned in the neighborhoods bordering Lawton Acres.
“I talked to some of the people in the Rogers Road area, and there were some that were angry, and others that understood what we were doing all along — that there has to be compromises sometimes on issues that divide, especially when you’re dealing with an issue with airport land,” Navarre said. “I think peoples’ vote didn’t reflect an anti-status quo, and I think we have a really good council who listens.”
McIntosh said he may run again, but his future political plans are up in the air.
“When I look back on things, I think I really am having an effect,” McIntosh said. “The reason I want to be on council is to accomplish some things related to open government. … Will I run next year? It depends — and this is for every election — on who else is running. If I can support a couple of people, and if I think they have a better chance of winning, I won’t run against them. I can accomplish things by being on the council, but if I have people I can work with on the council I think I could accomplish more by not being on it.”
Reach Ben Boettger at firstname.lastname@example.org.