2022 gubernatorial candidate Charlie Pierce walks in the 65th annual Soldotna Progress Days Parade on Saturday, July 23, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

2022 gubernatorial candidate Charlie Pierce walks in the 65th annual Soldotna Progress Days Parade on Saturday, July 23, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Pierce resigns as borough mayor, will focus on gubernatorial bid

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce is stepping down as mayor, effective Sept. 30, citing plans to focus on his 2022 gubernatorial bid, the Pierce for Governor campaign announced Friday morning.

Pierce, who announced his candidacy for governor in late January, is a former manager at ENSTAR Natural Gas Company. He has served as mayor of the Kenai Peninsula Borough since 2017 and was reelected to the position in 2020.

“It has been a pleasure and great honor to serve the residents of the Kenai Peninsula Borough these past five years,” Pierce wrote in a statement, highlighting his work on borough finances and leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Clarion tried contacting Pierce via text message early Friday and he did not respond.

The statement says Pierce “had earlier committed to stepping down” as mayor after the Aug. 16 primary election. He’s touted a “Results not Rhetoric” slogan throughout his run for governor and secured an endorsement from the Alaska Republican Party earlier this year.

Unofficial, preliminary elections results from the Alaska Division of Elections show Pierce and running mate Edie Grunwald set to advance to the November general election. Their ticket has received about 6.7% of the more than 183,000 votes counted, as of 6:45 p.m. on Aug. 25.

That’s significantly behind where other governor and lieutenant governor tickets stand. Incumbent Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Nancy Dahlstrom are leading with 40.69% of votes, followed by Bill Walker and Heidi Drygas with 22.73% of votes and Les Gara and Jessica Cook with 22.71% of votes.

Under Alaska’s new ranked choice general election system, the top four gubernatorial vote-getters advance to the state general election.

If a mayoral vacancy occurs more than six months before the next regular election, the governing body shall call a special election to finish out the term, per Alaska State Statute 29.20.280. In the case of the Kenai Peninsula Borough, that governing body is the assembly.

There are multiple reasons why a governing body could declare a vacancy in the office, including when the person elected resigns and that resignation is accepted. Pierce’s current term is set to expire next year. He was most recently elected borough mayor in 2020 and terms are three years long.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Clerk Johni Blankenship said Friday that the timeline for getting a new mayor in to replace Pierce will ultimately come down to the assembly. It’s too late for the vacancy to appear on the borough’s Oct. 4 ballot, she said.

“We will be working on the transition plan over the next few days,” Blankenship said.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Attorney Sean Kelley said in a message shared Friday with local media outlets that Pierce’s resignation was tendered on Aug. 26 and is effective on Sept. 30. Kelley said the department will publish a memo next week addressing the succession process, as outlined by state statute.

“Operations at the borough are not impacted,” Kelley wrote. “Operations will continue as normal and all public services remain open for business.”

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly is expected to address the vacancy at their next regular meeting on Sept. 6.

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

More in News

Council member James Baisden speaks in favor of an amendment to the City of Kenai’s budget that would add funds for construction of a veteran’s memorial column in the Kenai Cemetery during a meeting of the Kenai City Council in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai budget amendment allocates funds for veterans’ columbarium in cemetery expansion

A columbarium is an aboveground structure that houses cremated remains

Council member Alex Douthit speaks in favor of an amendment to the CIty of Kenai’s budget that would reduce funds allocated to the Storefront and Streetscape Improvement Program during a meeting of the Kenai City Council in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Funding reduced for City of Kenai’s storefront improvement grant program

Just over a year after the City of Kenai established its Storefront… Continue reading

Mount Redoubt can be seen across Cook Inlet from North Kenai Beach on Thursday, July 2, 2022. (Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion file photo)
Hilcorp only bidder in Cook Inlet oil and gas lease sale

8 million acres were available for bidding in the sale, spread across Cook Inlet and the Alaska Peninsula region

Council member Phil Daniel speaks during a meeting of the Kenai City Council in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
City of Kenai approves budget

A draft of the document says that the city expects to bring in around $19.5 million in the next year, and spend $20.2 million

A sockeye salmon rests atop a cooler at the mouth of the Kasilof River on Monday, June 26, 2023, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
A sockeye salmon rests atop a cooler at the mouth of the Kasilof River on Monday, June 26, 2023, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kasilof River personal use setnet opening delayed

Low counts for Kenai River early-run king salmon motivate restriction

Ben Meyer, environmental scientist and water quality coordinator for the Kenai Watershed Forum, teaches children about young salmon freshly pulled from the Kenai River during the Kenai River Fair at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, June 7, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai River Fair debuts with array of activities and education

Previously called the Kenai River Festival, the newly refocused fair featured booths and activities dedicated to education about the outdoors, wildlife and ecosystems

A sign welcomes visitors on July 7, 2021, in Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward Pride Alliance rallies after bomb threat displaces drag story hour

The event was able to continue after a delay and a fundraising effort has brought in more than $13,000

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
City of Kenai Public Works Director Scott Curtain; City of Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel; Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Peter Micciche; Sen. Lisa Murkowski; Col. Jeffrey Palazzini; Elaina Spraker; Adam Trombley; and Kenai City Manager Terry Eubank cut the ribbon to celebrate the start of work on the Kenai River Bluff Stabilization Project on the bluff above the Kenai River in Kenai on Monday.
‘The future is bright for the City of Kenai’

Kenai celebrates start of bluff stabilization project after developing for 40 years

A Kenai Peninsula Food Bank truck in the Food Bank parking lot on Aug. 4, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Peninsula Food Bank’s Spring Festival set for Friday

The event will feature a wide swath of vendors, including lots of nonprofits, who will be sharing information about their services

Most Read