Kenai Peninsula Borough residents voted Tuesday in municipal races, including the election for borough mayor, several city council, borough assembly and school board seats.
In total, 9,864 residents cast ballots at the polls, but Michele Turner, deputy clerk at the Kenai Peninsula Borough, said that the borough has received an additional 3,538 ballots that were cast absentee by-mail or in-person. Official election results including these ballots will be certified on Oct. 13.
Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor
In the race for Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor, as of Tuesday night Charlie Pierce was leading the vote count with 5,777 of the votes cast. Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings was in second place with 3,531 votes. Troy Nightingale was in third with 363 votes.
The Clarion spoke to 15 voters in Kenai on Election Day, with eight saying they voted for Farnsworth-Hutchings and six casting their votes for Pierce.
People who supported Pierce said that they either liked him as a person or supported his policies.
Don St. John, of Kenai, said he liked what Pierce had done in the last three years and wanted to see him continue.
Those who voted for Farnsworth-Hutchings were looking for a change.
“I voted for Linda because I think Charlie is too divisive,” Rebecca Bezdecny, of Kenai, said Tuesday.
Pierce said Tuesday night that he had been watching the election numbers with his family and campaign team and was “humbled” by the results.
“I feel very good about it, and very appreciative,” Pierce said. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but I believe there are more opportunities than challenges, and I’m glad I’m here to do the job.”
When asked if he felt confident that the results would stand after all the absentee ballots were counted, Pierce said the numbers were in his favor.
“We’re looking at about a 60/40 split right now, so she’d (Farnsworth-Hutchings) have to pick up most of those votes in order to win,” Pierce said. “I think I’ve got most of those votes.”
Kenai City Council
In the race for Kenai City Council, three candidates were running for two seats on the council, with each voter having the opportunity to vote for two candidates.
As of Tuesday night, Teea Winger and Henry Knackstedt were the top two vote-getters in the race, with 562 votes and 472 votes, respectively. Tim Navarre was in third with 426 votes. The City of Kenai additionally received 110 absentee in-person ballots and 314 mail-in ballot requests, which will be counted by the Canvass Board on Oct. 13.
Kenai voters who spoke to the Clarion leaned toward Knackstedt and Winger this year, with eight voters choosing Winger, six choosing Knackstedt and two choosing Navarre.
Kasey Campbell, of Kenai, said that she voted for Winger and Knackstedt because she felt Navarre has been in office for a while and wanted to vote for change.
Winger spoke to the Clarion after the preliminary results had been posted and said that being the top vote-getter felt “amazing,” especially because she’s not an incumbent.
“I’m just humbled by the support I had and the people who put in the work behind the scenes,” Winger said. “I truly felt like the underdog in this race, but it feels pretty excellent now to beat the good old boys.”
Despite it being a close race, Winger said she felt confident she would be one of the two new city council members when the final results are certified.
“I really worked on the absentee ballots angle and knew of a few people who had voted for me in that way, so I’m pretty confident,” Winger said.
Assembly, District 2
In the race to represent the City of Kenai on the Borough Assembly, Richard Derkevorkian led Tuesday night with 459 votes, while Hal Smalley was in second with 356 votes. Jim Duffield, who filed his candidacy and appeared on the ballot but dropped out of the race last month, received 122 votes.
Of the Kenai voters who spoke to the Clarion, eight voted for Derkevorkian and four voted for Smalley.
Matt Sanford, of Kenai, said that he wasn’t familiar with either candidates, so he wrote in his friend’s name.
“Frankly all of the candidates this year were too conservative for me,” Sanford said. “So my friend Bill Taylor has at least one vote.”
Those who voted for Derkevorkian said they liked his candidate statement and wanted to see some “new blood” on the assembly. Those who supported Smalley said that they appreciated his experience, even if they didn’t agree with him on some issues.
“I voted for Smalley because he’s a good guy,” Greg Fite, of Kenai, said Tuesday. “There’s a lot where I don’t agree with him, but I think he does a good job on the assembly.”
Derkevorkian Tuesday night said he was excited to be in the lead.
“I just want to thank everyone that helped me out and supported me,” Derkevorkian said. “It’s a little too soon to celebrate because of all the absentee ballots, but I’ve had a lot of fun running, and if I win, I look forward to serving Kenai on the assembly.”
Board of Education
Four seats on the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s School Board were open this year. District 6, which represents the eastern peninsula, was the only contested race. As of Tuesday night, Virginia Morgan was leading in that race with 416 votes, while Katie Hamilton received 310 votes.
Seward City Council
In the race for Seward City Council, four candidates were running for two seats, with the top two vote-getters securing the nomination. Sue McClure and Liz DeMoss were in the lead as of Tuesday night with 222 and 175 votes, respectively. Sean Corrigan was in third with 144 votes, while Selma Casagranda is in fourth with 58 votes.
The City of Seward’s Canvass Board will meet on Oct. 8 to count an additional 80 absentee in-person and 43 absentee by-mail ballots that were received by election day.