In preliminary election results, the Homer City Council will see some familiar faces, while in Kenai Peninsula Borough races, with incumbents on the school board and assembly not running, two citizens new to politics have been elected.
City of Homer election
In Homer, former Homer City Council member Shelly Erickson will return to the council, while incumbent council member Donna Aderhold won reelection. In a race with first-time political candidate Adam Hykes, the top two vote-getters in that election won the two seats. Aderhold and Erickson had strong leads over Hykes for the two three-year seats.
In a second election for former council member Joey Evensen’s one-year seat, Jason Davis leads Heath Smith by 45 votes. The council appointed Davis to fill the seat this summer until the election. Smith, also a council member, chose to run for the one-year seat.
With 405 absentee, special needs and questioned ballots still to be counted in the City of Homer election, the race between Davis and Smith remains to be decided. Seventy-one ballots also were mailed out and have yet to be received. Those ballots must be received by 2 p.m. Friday when the Canvass Board meets to count all outstanding ballots.
As of the end of polling on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 1,472 votes were cast for the three-year seat between the two Homer polling stations, with Erickson leading with 42% or 607 of the votes. Aderhold has received 36% or 528 of the votes, while Hykes received 19% or 271 of the votes.
Erickson said she is most looking forward to “getting back to work and helping our city move forward through all of the things we’ve been dealing with.”
Erickson originally served on the city council from 2016 through 2018 and says she is thankful the voters believed in her enough to reelect her.
“I just want to thank (the voters) for having faith in me and voting for me to be a part of the council again,” she said. “They trust me with my voice at the table.”
Erickson said she’s ready to see plans move forward with the Homer Education and Recreation Complex during her time on council after many years of discussing what to do with it.
“I’ve been talking about that on different commissions since 2008, and I’d really like to see that come to some kind of closure where we’re not just talking anymore but doing something,” Erickson said. “To me, that’s what’s important.”
Aderhold also shared her excitement for moving forward on council with the HERC campus renovations, climate action plan and many other projects she has spearheaded since being elected to council in 2015.
“I’m happy to be reelected,” Aderhold said. “I still feel like there are a lot of things that I’m interested in working on and I am looking forward to moving forward with those things.”
Aderhold said she felt her campaign resonated with voters and she looks forward to following through on the matters she addressed during her candidacy such as ADA compliance.
Hykes, a first-time candidate for city council, received only 19% of the votes. At the time of print, Hykes had not responded to phone calls or emails from the Homer News.
So far, Davis is unofficially leading by 45 votes the race for the one-year seat.
“It was nice to come out ahead,” Davis said of his preliminary lead on Tuesday night. “I’m definitely waiting for Friday’s final results before there’s any celebration. I was gratified with the support of the community and happy to come out ahead on voting day at least.”
“There’s a lot of votes out there,” Smith said of the early results. “I don’t know if I’m in a position to feel one way or another at this point.”
Smith noted the low voter turnout of 25% this year compared to 37% in 2020.
“I don’t know what the lack of motivation may have been there. We can only go with the people who show up at the polls and cast their votes,” he said. “Honestly, win or lose, I’m disappointed we don’t have more participation at the polls. It troubles me people can’t show more interest. … You have two weeks to vote and we still can’t get people (to) feel it’s important enough to do it.”
Did the COVID-19 pandemic limit voter turnout? Smith was asked.
“I’m hard pressed to think we are in a more sensitive mode this year than we were last year,” Smith said. “… There’s still a lot of votes sitting out there that people took the time to go in when there weren’t hardly any crowds and the wait isn’t very long.”
Davis said it seemed like a long shot to take on an incumbent council member, although he noted that as an appointee to the seat up for contest, technically he was the incumbent.
“After I was appointed, I felt like I owed it to myself and the council,” he said of his decision to run.
Through the campaign and working with Smith, Davis said he came to appreciate him.
“He’s thoughtful and moderate and well respected,” Davis said.
The desire for a new face on the council might have helped Davis in an early win over Smith. With two strong experienced candidates running for the two three-year seats, Davis said he might have been the choice among voters for a newer council member. Davis credited contacts he’s made at his church, Homer United Methodist, and through his business, Sweetgale Meadworks, as helping in his campaign.
“It was my supporters getting the word out to their friends that helped me on Election Day,” Davis said.
If elected, Davis also will be the first openly gay man or LGBTQ person elected to city council. Davis has been a familiar face at Pride events in Homer.
“It’s not something I think about a lot,” Davis said of being openly gay. “Working in the federal government, it was nonremarkable. I guess it is noteworthy.”
Davis is the second member in his family to enter politics. His father, John Davis, served on the borough assembly and once ran for the Alaska Legislature.
Kenai Peninsula Borough elections
In the borough elections, early results showed a near-landslide race for the District 9 seat on the assembly. Mike Tupper leads with 421 votes or 47% followed by Ashton Callahan with 258 votes or 29% and Dawson Slaughter with 203 votes or 22%. In borough elections, the top vote-getter wins, with no runoff elections. The borough has not yet released the number of uncounted votes for those races.
Tupper said he couldn’t point to any one factor that helped get him elected.
“I do know that I’ve tried to be a force for good in the area over many years,” Tupper said.
Tupper did get the endorsement of the three previous District 8 assembly members, Willy Dunne, Mako Haggerty and Milli Martin.
“It was a lot of people who knew Willy or took his recommendation and were very favorable,” Tupper said.
Callahan said he was happy to see a stronger voter turnout for the District 9 race, with about 30% of registered voters voting. Callahan and Slaughter both lean more conservative, and Callahan agreed they might have split the vote.
“It’s a nonpartisan race. It’s impossible to keep partisanship out of elected positions,” he said. “It looks like the Democratic side was more organized there with the single candidate.”
Callahan said he thinks he had more support districtwide than Slaughter. He ran on a campaign of supporting education through more economic growth.
“I wanted people to know that the overall financial stability was going to be one of the financial drivers for education,” he said.
Tupper said he wished the borough races were less partisan.
“It’s really turned into this ‘which camp are you in’ competition, which is unfortunate” he said. “I wish we could get to the point at least at the local level of ‘who’s the best person for the job?’”
Slaughter did well in his hometown of Anchor Point, where he serves on the Anchor Point Chamber of Commerce and on the Western Emergency Services Service Area Board. He also has been appointed to the Anchor Point Advisory Planning Commission.
“It’s the will of the people,” Slaughter said of Tupper’s election. “Folks decided Mike’s the new representative. I put out a statement that I look forward to working with Mike and I thank all my supporters.”
In the District 8 school board seat, retired school teacher and principal Tim Daugharty is leading the polls against Britny Bradshaw with 685 votes to Bradshaw’s 390 votes.
Daugharty shared his excitement for this new chapter in his academic career and thanked the voters for trusting him to help make policies that will benefit the school and the students. Daugharty considers himself a lifelong learner, which he says is necessary in serving the school district.
“I am extremely humbled and grateful for the votes and well-wishing of all of the people who came out,” Daugharty said. “It was pretty awe-inspiring for sure.”
He said the board’s first goal should be to get students back in school in a safe and secure manner and determine how to best use the budget to support students who have fallen behind or are in need because of the pandemic.
Bradshaw said she wanted to run for the school board seat to be more involved in the school system’s policy process to represent the students, and by making her voice known during the campaign, she feels she accomplished that.
“I knew that standing up for the kids and the policies that we want to be more involved in was important regardless of what we do or the obstacles ahead of us, and that was a big deal for me,” Bradshaw said. “It was important for me to tell my kids I’ve done everything I can to be involved instead of just shouting and ranting from the sidelines. That’s what was important to me.”
Bradshaw also shared that she is looking forward to working with Daugharty on the school board in the future.
“I really like Tim, we’ve had really good interactions and I think he is great,” Bradshaw said. “Change is good no matter what, and I think getting new representation in the school board is good. I hope to continue those conversations with him and share what’s going on on the homefront with our kids on a regular basis.”
There also were three uncontested races for three seats on the South Peninsula Hospital Service Area Board, with Kathryn Ault running for seat A, Helen Armstrong running for Seat B and retiring assembly member Willy Dunne running for Seat C. Ault received 1,373 votes or 94% with 86 write-ins, Armstrong received 1,331 votes or 93% with 89 write-ins and Dunne received 1,425 votes or 85% with 250 write-ins. On the Homer Sons of Liberty Facebook page, Jim Shimto announced a write-in campaign.
Reach Michael Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reach Sarah Knapp at email@example.com. Armstrong’s sister, Helen, is an uncontested candidate for Seat B on the South Peninsula Hospital Service Area Board.
Homer City Council
Two, Three-year seats (top two vote-getters win)
Donna Aderhold: 528, 36%
Shelly Erickson: 607, 42%
Adam Hykes: 271, 19%
Write in: 21, 3%
Jason Davis: 470, 52%
Heath Smith: 425, 47%
Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, District 9 (Diamond Ridge and Fritz Creek/Kachemak City not reported)
Ashton Callahan: 258, 29%
Dawson Slaughter: 203, 22%
Mike Tupper: 421, 47%
Kenai Peninsula Borough School Board, District 8 (Diamond Ridge and Fritz Creek/Kachemak City not reported)
Britny Bradshaw: 349
Tim Daugharty: 533
South Peninsula Hospital Service Area Board
Kathryn Ault , 1,373, 94%
Write in, 86, 6%
Helen Armstrong, 1,331, 93%
Write in, 7%
Willy Dunne, 1,425, 85%