A screenshot of the swearing-in of newly elected members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, via Zoom, on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. (Image Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

A screenshot of the swearing-in of newly elected members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, via Zoom, on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. (Image Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

New borough assembly members sworn in virtually

Bill Elam, Richard Derekevorkian and Lane Chesley took the oath via Zoom.

Three newly elected members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly took an oath of office over Zoom Monday, in what Borough Clerk Johni Blankenship called the “first-ever virtual swearing in.”

With their right hands raised, Bill Elam, Richard Derkevorkian and Lane Chesley took the oath — with overlapping audio and brief video glitches — during the assembly’s Monday night meeting.

“Are you all saying this?” Blankenship joked halfway through the oath.

Richard Derkevorkian will replace Hal Smalley on the District 3 assembly seat, which represents Kenai, after receiving just 27 more votes than Smalley in the Oct. 6 municipal election.

“Thank you to the voters and the City of Kenai for allowing me to represent you on the borough assembly,” Smalley said during his closing remarks. “It’s been a privilege and an honor, working with you on the assembly and working for the community.”

Bill Elam, who ran unopposed in the election, will replace Norm Blakeley on the District 5 seat, which represents Sterling and Funny River.

“A lot of people complain about the government and how it’s run,” Blakeley said. “I would say I was pretty amazed, and still am, at how well our borough works, how they get along, how they look at things and how they accomplish things.”

Lane Chesley will replace Kelly Cooper, who is running for State House District 31. Cooper, who also served as assembly president, served on the District 8 assembly seat, which represents Homer.

“To everyone that I have served with: you are my friends and even when we didn’t agree, it was always so refreshing to see how we would come together afterwards,” Cooper said. “So when people talk about how ugly politics is, I really wish they could see how we all interacted.”

The addition of the three new members will see the first all-male borough assembly in at least 28 years. The next assembly meeting will be on Nov. 10.

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

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