So you want to get involved in local government?

The sights, sounds, speeches and signs of election season are bearing down on the Kenai Peninsula as July fades into August.

Though state and national candidates have been campaigning for months, central Kenai Peninsula candidates can file their paperwork beginning Wednesday. There are a number of local positions open, including seats on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education, the service areas boards and the Kenai and Soldotna city councils.

While the legislative and congressional seats are partisan and require candidates to register a party affiliation, local races are nonpartisan. This year, there are three elections for Kenai Peninsula voters to come out to: the primary election Aug. 21, the municipal regular election on Oct. 2 and the general election Nov. 6.

The state’s election administrator — the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) — has some requirements for all prospective candidates. Before starting to campaign or take contributions, all will have to file either a letter of intent with APOC or a declaration of candidacy with a city clerk, and register their campaign with APOC within seven days afterward. Candidates for city councils, the borough assembly and school board will also have to report their campaign contributions and spending to APOC. Service area board candidates won’t have to file APOC financial disclosures. Nor will candidates who don’t plan to spend more than $5,000 on campaigning, though they must instead file for an exemption to the reporting requirement, according to APOC’s candidate handbook.

Various elected bodies have their own due dates for declarations of candidacy and due dates for packets, though the cities of Kenai and Soldotna and the Kenai Peninsula Borough all fall on Aug. 1. For APOC, deadlines for financial disclosures are spread throughout the year. Disclosures can be submitted at APOC’s website.

State code also requires candidates identify which groups paid for yard signs, videos and other advertisements in every race.

Kenai Peninsula Borough

The Kenai Peninsula Borough has 18 open seats in its government this year, three of which are on the borough assembly and the rest on various service area boards.

Assembly seats will be available in District 1, which covers the K-Beach area; District 6, which covers the peninsula east of Otter Way in Sterling; and District 9, which covers a vast swath of the southern peninsula including Anchor Point, Fritz Creek, Seldovia and Nawalek.

There are 15 seats open on service area boards around the peninsula, all of which are for three-year terms. Service area board members help determine the budget and services in a particular service area and are volunteer positions. The elections are not usually contested, and many service area boards have vacant seats already.

To run for a borough office, candidates have to file a declaration of candidacy form with the borough clerk’s office. They became available Monday. The first day candidates can file is Aug. 1.

To qualify for office in the borough government, a candidate has to be at least 18, be a qualified voter in Alaska and have lived in his or her district or service area for at least 180 days. In the case of the borough mayor, the candidate can live anywhere in the borough.

The forms are available online or in paper at the borough building in Soldotna and the borough’s annexes in Seward, Homer and Seldovia, and have to be filed by Aug. 15 at 4:30 p.m. at any of the borough offices. The information requested on the declaration of candidacy is fairly basic, including physical address, how many years the person has lived in the borough, a mailing address, what district he or she is running in and how his or her name should appear on the ballot.

The financial disclosure statement, which has to be filed online and then submitted in paper to the borough clerk, asks for the candidate to outline where his or her income comes from, including non-work sources such as investments, pensions and Permanent Fund Dividend checks. The candidate’s immediate family members’ income sources have to be included as well.

A week after the first forms are filed, the candidate has to file a statement saying they are either registered with the Alaska Public Offices Commission or are exempt from filing with that agency. The form has to be either signed in person or by fax when filed.

Borough assembly members are required to attend as many meetings as possible in person, review proposed ordinances and write legislation and interact with their constituents by email, phone and in person. Regular meetings are typically held the first and third Tuesdays of every month, but may vary depending on scheduling.

Assembly members receive a monthly car allowance and mileage reimbursement, meals at the meetings and $25 per month for internet access, as well as a stipend — $400 for regular members and $500 for the assembly president, who is elected at the beginning of each electoral year. Assembly members can also choose to participate in health and life insurance benefits,which are the same as those provided to borough department heads.

Service area board members are volunteers, with no stipend included. They serve on staggered three-year terms, and the boards meet at various times and locations, depending on the area included. Service area boards usually review actions proposed by the chiefs and administrators of the service area functions and approve them, which the assembly takes into consideration before issuing final approval or denial.

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education

Members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Board of Education are elected for staggered three-year terms. This year, four seats are open on the Oct. 2 ballot.

Three seats will be open this year: District 2, which encompasses Kenai; District 5, which encompasses Sterling and Funny River; and District 8, which encompasses Homer.

Candidates must be at least 18 years old and maintain legal residence within the boundaries of their election district to be eligible.

The Board of Education generally meets on the first Monday of each month for anywhere from one to three hours, with the possibility of special meetings. Work sessions are also held during the day before each regular meeting.

Responsibilities of Board of Education members include selecting a district superintendent and appointing all school employees, developing and adopting policies, adopting an annual budget and serving as citizens’ link to the school district, according to board documents.

To file for candidacy for a borough position, the required forms are available on the borough’s website or at the borough offices at 144 North Binkley in Soldotna, the Seward Borough Annex, the Homer Borough Annex and the Seldovia City Clerk’s Office.

Candidates for the Board of Education must file a Declaration of Candidacy form by 4:30 p.m. Aug. 15.

For more information on how to run for the board of education, call (907)-714-2160.

City of Soldotna

Three seats will open on Soldotna’s six-member city council this fall. Two are three-year seats, and one is a two-year seat.

Interested candidates must be a resident of Soldotna for at least one year prior to their date of declaration as well as a U.S. citizen and qualified voter.

Candidate filing period begins at 9 a.m. on August 1 and closes on August 16 at 4:30 p.m.

Candidates must file a declaration of candidacy with the Soldotna City Clerk by August 15 to be considered. They must also file a public official financial disclosure statement with the City Clerk when filing their declaration.

Information on the candidates will appear on the city’s website, including their biography and candidate statement, which must be 200 words or less and will be printed exactly as written, spelling or grammar mistakes included.

All required forms are available online or at the city of Soldotna office at 177 North Birch Street.

The city of Soldotna also offers a 2017 Candidate Handbook and anyone with further questions are urged to contact the city clerk at (907) 714-1223.

City of Kenai

Kenai’s mayor and seven city council members serve three year terms, with two council seats opening up each year.

Candidates don’t run for specific seats — the two top candidates will take the two open positions. The council’s regular meetings are the first and third Monday of each month. In addition, each council members attends the monthly meetings of one of Kenai’s nine commissions and committees as a liaison.

Prospective new council members can enter the race by collecting 20 signatures on a nominating petition, though acting Kenai City Clerk Jamie Heinz recommends “obtaining more than the required signatures to ensure sufficiency of your petition” in her information sheet on the process. Nominating petitions are available now on the city of Kenai’s website. The completed petitions are due in Heinz’s office by 10 a.m on August 15.

Along with the signed petition, prospective candidates must fill out a candidate information package, submitted with a photo to be included in the borough voter information pamphlet. More information can be found at the Kenai city website.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at eearl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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