A new sign welcoming people to the City of Soldotna is photographed on May 1, 2019, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

A new sign welcoming people to the City of Soldotna is photographed on May 1, 2019, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Two candidates file for Soldotna mayoral election

John Nels Anderson died in September while serving as mayor.

The city of Soldotna is gearing up for its upcoming special election.

After the Sept. 10 death of Mayor John Nels Anderson, the city council declared the mayor’s seat vacant. At their Sept. 26 meeting, they called a special election to elect a new mayor Dec. 17.

Soldotna voters have until Nov. 17 to register or update their voter registration.

Two Soldotna residents have launched campaigns to run for mayor, Pete Sprague and Charlene M. Tautfest.

Tautfest has lived in Alaska for 25 years, according to the candidate information form available on the city’s website. She has a degree in business administration from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She is currently serving on several boards, including the Alaska Mental Health Board, Alaska Coalition on Housing and Homelessness and the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education.

She’s a member of the Rotary, Republican Women of the Kenai and serves as a director of the Peninsula Community Health Services of Alaska.

Sprague has lived in Alaska for 44 years, according to his candidate information form. He served as Soldotna’s mayor between 2015 and 2017 and on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly from 1998 to 2010. He also served on the Soldotna City Council from 1997 to 1999 and again from 2011 to 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from the State University of New York at Albany. Sprague is retired from the U.S. Postal Service and is a current member of the Soldotna Historical Society.

Absentee voting will begin at Soldotna City Hall Dec. 2, and the regular election day will be held from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17.

Anderson’s term as mayor would have ended after the 2020 October election.

Since the vacancy in office occurred more than six months before a regular election, a special election to fill the unexpired term is required. Whoever is elected at the special election will serve until October 2020.

Editors note: This story was corrected to say that Tautfest is a director, not the director of the Peninsula Community Helath Services of Alaska, and that she serves on the Governor’s Council on Dissabilities and Special Education, not special needs.

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