The results are official. The Soldotna field house bond failed, but the city council is exploring ways to keep the project alive.
At Wednesday’s city council meeting, the council passed a resolution certifying the election results with 363 ‘no’ votes to 345 ‘yes’ votes.
“I think that, obviously, we were all disappointed in the results of this,” said Mayor Nels Anderson, who said he would like to learn from this election and put the bond back to a ballot with a more positive campaign behind it.
“I have heard all sorts of oddball reasons for why people did not vote for this … The bottom line is if this was a resounding defeat, I would leave it and take it, but I personally think this is an important enough thing that I think we need to bring it back,” Anderson said.
Anderson asked the council to consider whether they would want to bring the issue back to the table and the administration to look into how and when the issue could be voted on again.
“I would like to see this come back as soon as possible, supported by a positive campaign,” Anderson said. “I think we just assumed because there was no opposition here on the council, that it was just going to pass and, obviously, we were mistaken. I think, for me, this is one of the most important issues we have for opportunities, for youth in particular, in the 23 years I’ve been in public service and I do not want to let it die.”
Voter turnout for the election was 19.08 percent, according to City Clerk Shellie Saner, which she said is a good turnout for the city. The 2018 regular election saw a 13 percent turnout, in comparison.
City Manager Stephanie Queen added that she is open to feedback, especially if the council decides to revisit the project.
“I’m really proud of the way our team put this project together conceptually, in terms of putting together the programming and the financing,” Queen said. “We are willing to talk to anyone about any of the decisions… I’m open to the feedback and the input if there is interest in revisiting the project and how, when we might bring it back and to learn from this. We’re open to that, we have the resources, we have the people. We’ll make the time and do what we can.”