Phil Daniel, left, joins supporters of both himself and Teea Winger in waving signs on the corner of Bridge Access Road and the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai, Alaska, for election day on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Phil Daniel, left, joins supporters of both himself and Teea Winger in waving signs on the corner of Bridge Access Road and the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai, Alaska, for election day on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Tight races, lack of support for Seward utility sale reflected in unofficial election results

Election results are as of about 10 p.m. on Tuesday evening

The first round of unofficial election results posted Tuesday evening show tight races in contested seats around the peninsula and a grim outlook for Seward’s electric utility sale.

Incumbents led in races on city councils, but margins were slim in many contested races for seats on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly and on the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education. In Seward, less than half of voters backed the proposed sale of the city’s electric utility, and even fewer voted to lower the threshold needed to advance such sales.

Tuesday’s unofficial results do not include absentee or special needs ballots, which still need to be resolved, and reflect only ballots that were cast at precincts on election day. Per the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s election timeline, certification of Tuesday’s borough election results is scheduled for Oct. 10.

Incumbent Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Peter Micciche ran unopposed for reelection. He received about 3,800 votes. An additional 334 write-in votes for that race were received. Micciche’s lead means the borough will not hold a mayoral runoff election. Borough code requires borough mayors to be elected by a majority of voters.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Clerk Michele Turner said Tuesday night that the borough’s canvass board was processing more than 700 absentee ballots.

Election results are as of about 10 p.m. on Tuesday evening.

Kenai

In Kenai, the race is tight among the four candidates vying for two seats on the city council. Of the roughly 1,100 votes cast in the race, Henry Knackstedt has received 318 votes, Teea Winger has received 262, Phil Daniel has received 256 and Glenese Pettey has received 238. Kenai residents were able to vote for two city council candidates.

The City of Kenai is scheduled to certify its election results on Oct. 19. Kenai City Clerk Michele Saner said Tuesday night that it is not yet known how many absentee and special needs ballots the city still needs to count.

Ryan Tunseth ran unopposed for Kenai’s seat on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly.

Soldotna

Incumbent council member Dan Nelson held a significant margin over challenger Garrett Dominick in the race for Seat B on the Soldotna City Council. Of the roughly 200 votes cast in that race, Nelson has received 137.

Mayoral candidate Paul Whitney and city council candidate Chera Wackler both ran unopposed for their respective seats. Incumbent Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education candidate Penny Vadla ran unopposed for reelection to the board’s Soldotna seat.

Soldotna City Clerk Johni Blankesnhip said Tuesday night that it is not yet known how many absentee and special needs ballots the city still needs to count.

Central

The race for the central seat on the school board is tight, with challenger Dianne MacRae leading incumbent Debbie Cary, who currently serves as school board president, by 17 votes.

Seward

In Seward, city council candidates Robert Barnwell and Julie Crites held sizable leads over Brad Snowden, the other candidate running. Both Barnwell and Crites received more than 220 votes each of the 475 votes cast, compared to 29 received by Snowden. Seward residents were able to vote for two city council candidates.

Results again came down against the proposed sale of Seward’s electric utility to Homer Electric Association. As of 9 p.m. Tuesday, about 54.3% of voters opposed selling the utility. A greater margin — about 60.6% of voters — opposed lowering the threshold needed to approve city utility sales.

The Seward City Clerk’s Office at around 10 p.m. on election night reported that the city still has 119 votes to count. Of those, 89 are absentee in-person ballots, 15 are absentee-by-mail ballots and 15 are special needs ballots. The city’s Canvass Board will meet Thursday to count those ballots. Certification of Seward’s election is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 9.

Nikiski

Just five votes separated the two candidates for Nikiski’s seat on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. Of the 729 votes cast on election day, incumbent candidate Peter Ribbens, who was appointed to the seat in January, received 367. Challenger Adam Bertoldo received 362.

In the race for the Nikiski school board seat, incumbent member Jason Tauriainen was leading challenger Lyndsey Bertoldo by about 100 votes.

Sterling

In Sterling, incumbent assembly candidate Bill Elam held a significant lead over challenger Nissa Savage. Of the roughly 420 votes cast in that race on election day, Elam received 336. Savage received 85.

In the race for Sterling’s seat on the KPBSD Board of Education, challenger Kelley Cizek received more than double the amount of votes received by incumbent Beverley Romanin. Romanin was appointed to the school board last fall. Of the 400 votes cast in the race, Cizek received 270 compared to Romanin’s 130.

Homer

In Homer, incumbent city council candidates Rachel Lord and Caroline Venuti had significant leads in the race for seats on the council. Of the roughly 1,100 votes counted so far, Lord received more than 400 votes and Venuti received about 360. Homer residents were able to vote for two city council candidates.

In the race for Homer’s seat on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, candidate Kelly Cooper was leading Heath Smith by about 125 votes.

Unofficial election results can be viewed on the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s elections webpage at kpb.us/assembly-clerk/elections.

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

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