Two contested races for Soldotna council; mayoral candidate to run unopposed

  • By Rashah McChesney
  • Saturday, August 29, 2015 8:50pm
  • News
Fred Sturman

Fred Sturman

Four people have filed for two seats on the Soldotna City Council and one for the remainder of the city mayor’s term.

For seat C incumbent Linda Murphy will face opposition from borough employee and Soldotna planning and zoning commission member Dan Nelson.

Murphy was appointed to the council in October 2013 after Dale Bagley was elected to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. She stood for re-election to finish his term in October 2014 and now will run again for a full term.

Murphy said she decided to run again because she wanted to help guide the city through looming state-level financial troubles. Murphy was the Seward City Clerk from 1982-1997 and the Kenai Peninsula Borough Clerk from 1997-2005, according to her candidacy bio. In addition, she has served on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly and the borough’s planning commission.

“I spent pretty much all of my professional life in public service,” Murphy said.

She said she wanted to use her experience to help the Soldotna Council through the next few years.

“We have a really strong financial position as a city right now and the borough is in a really strong position,” she said. “Unless the state gets its fiscal house in order, we’re going to be looking at large cuts in what the city gets from the state.”

Murphy’s opponent, Nelson, also has experience in local government. He has been on the city’s planning and zoning commission since 2013. Nelson said running for Soldotna council is part of his long term plans.

“I enjoy local politics but I think that, at the local level, you really can get things accomplished, you’re dealing with local people” Nelson said. “The council deals with things that are very important, like budgeting and some of the other issues that come into play for quality of life. We’re going to be looking at annexation soon. I wanted to get involved in that and just kind of be a voice. I feel like I’ve gotten my feet wet a little with (planning and zoning), now I’ll go for the next step.”

For council seat A incumbent Paul Whitney will run against longtime resident and retiree Fred Sturman.

Whitney has been on the Soldotna council since 2013 and the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s planning commission since 2012. He served on the Fairbanks City Council for four years, according to his candidate biography. Whitney wrote in his bio that his time on Soldotna’s council has been both challenging and rewarding. He wrote that he’d like to continue helping the community grow responsibly and address issues like the expansion of city services and economic growth.

Sturman, a regular fixture at both Kenai Peninsula Borough meetings and Soldotna City Council meetings, often advocates for cost-cutting measures and fiscal conservation. He is a member of Alaskans for Grocery Tax Relief Now — an organization that advocates for abolishing the winter grocery tax in Soldotna and Seldovia — and of the Alliance of Concerned Tax Payers, which promotes financial efficiency in Kenai Peninsula borough functions.

“I believe in conservative spending values, and freedom of choice and opportunity,” Sturman wrote in his candidate biography.

The sole candidate for Soldotna’s mayor, Pete Sprague, is a current city council member and has served on the council for six years. He also served on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly for 12 years.

Sprague said he decided to run for mayor because he has been an elected official for nearly 20 years. He is a retired letter carrier.

“I think that I have the background and the experience and the energy really, to serve as the mayor,” Sprague said.

He said he believed he could serve the city well. “I have the time to devote to it and I’m pretty much available 24/7 for whatever the city might need or the folks of the City of Soldotna,” he said.

Reach Rashah McChesney at

Linda Murphy

Linda Murphy

Paul Whitney

Paul Whitney

Pete Sprague

Pete Sprague

Dan Nelson

Dan Nelson

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