A sign directs voters at Soldotna City Hall during the special Field House election on March 5, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

A sign directs voters at Soldotna City Hall during the special Field House election on March 5, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Ordinance would extend residency requirements for local office

The ordinance would require candidates to have lived in the borough for one year.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly is looking at lengthening the amount of time a resident must live in the borough before running for local office.

An ordinance sponsored by assembly member Brent Johnson would require borough assembly and mayoral candidates to have lived in the borough for one year prior to running for local office. The residency extension would double the current requirement of 180 days.

Extending the requirement to a year would align the borough with other boroughs across the state, such as the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Fairbanks North Star Borough, Haines, Petersburg, Kodiak, Ketchikan and Homer, Johnson said in a Dec. 26 memo to the assembly.

Johnson said the code’s “deficiencies” were brought to his attention during the 2019 assembly election.

A longer residency requirement serves important local interests, and will “afford greater voter knowledge of candidates and greater candidate knowledge of the needs of the constituency while also protecting constitutional rights of both the voter and the candidate,” Johnson said.

“Candidates for local office should be familiar with the issues and challenges facing their constituents and should not be able to move to an area right before an election for personal gain,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s ordinance also seeks to provide a clearer understanding of what a resident is, with an amendment that mirrors state law, defining a “residence as actual physical presence and habitation at a specific location in the borough.”

This ordinance, if passed, will impact the elections of school board, borough assembly and borough mayor.

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