Funding for school maintenance projects, construction of a new field house in Soldotna and incumbent victories in the Kenai Peninsula’s city council, borough assembly and board of education races were among the leading outcomes of Tuesday’s municipal election, unofficial results show.
The same results, which represent ballots cast by about 11.2% of borough voters, also show central peninsula residents support the construction of a new fire station for Central Emergency Services and broad support for the borough’s existing nine school board and assembly districts.
Polls closed at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, with waves of results coming in through the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s election website. Unofficial results do not include questioned or absentee ballots and are preliminary. Election certification will occur at a later date.
Incumbent assembly candidate Brent Johnson, who also serves as assembly president, ran unopposed for reelection to the assembly. He clinched 100% of the 577 votes cast. Johnson has represented District 7, which runs from south of Soldotna to Nikolaevsk and includes the communities of Clam Gulch, Ninilchik and Happy Valley, for nine years.
Unofficial results show the assembly’s incumbent Nikiski representative, Jesse Bjorkman, leading over the two other candidates running for the seat, Dil Uhlin and Chase Griffith. Bjorkman, who is also running for a seat in the Alaska Legislature, is a teacher at Nikiski/Middle High School and has represented Nikiski on the assembly since 2019.
Incumbent Soldotna assembly candidate Tyson Cox holds a significant lead over challenger Don Boston, with both precincts reporting. Results showed Cox, who has represented Soldotna on the assembly since 2019, leading Boston by 223 votes.
Board of Education
Incumbent candidates vying for the three open seats on the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education secured victories, including Virginia Morgan, Patti Trusedell and Zen Kelly. Those board members represent the Eastern Peninsula, Kalifornsky and the Southern Peninsula, respectively.
Kelly, who also serves as board of education president, has represented District 9, which includes Anchor Point, Seldovia and other southern peninsula communities, since 2016.
Morgan soundly defeated challenger Ryan Culbertson, who had received 199 votes to her 456 votes as of about 12:20 a.m. on Wednesday. Morgan, who has served on the board since 2019, holds bachelor’s degrees in music and elementary education and is a former elementary and middle school teacher who also volunteers at the Cooper Landing Community Library
Patti Truesdell held a similarly wide margin over her opponent, Virgil Gattenby, with 430 votes to Gattenby’s 202 votes. Truesdell, who has served on the school board since 2019, is a retired KPBSD teacher and holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Alaska system.
Borough voters voiced their overwhelming support — 66% in favor — for the construction of a new primary fire station for Central Emergency Services. That initiative, which appeared on central peninsula ballots as Proposition No. 3, means that the borough will incur up to $16.5 million in debt to construct the new station, to be located adjacent to the borough’s Office of Emergency Management building, which will replace a building CES says they have outgrown.
Voters also indicated their preference for nine single-member board of education and assembly districts — as opposed to 11 single-member districts. That ballot question arose following data from the 2020 U.S. Census, which showed that some areas of the peninsula are gaining residents more quickly than others.
The goal of reapportionment is to get the population of each district as close to a target population as possible, using data from the 2020 Census. For the current redistricting cycle, the target population is 6,533.
A majority of borough voters — 57.1% — also voted in support of a $65.5 million bond package, which will address deferred maintenance issues at ten of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s 42 schools. As of about 12:20 a.m. on Wednesday, there were 1,058 more votes in favor of the bond than opposed, with all borough precincts reporting.
Two new faces will join the Kenai City Council following upsets in the race for the body’s two open seats.
Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission Vice Chair Alex Douthit received the most votes of the three candidates vying for seats on the Kenai City Council. Douthit and former council member Victoria Askin, who was the second-highest vote getter, are leading for spots on the council. Incumbent council member Glenese Pettey received 394 votes, the least of the three candidates.
Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel will serve another term as mayor following his victory over Council Member Teea Winger, who challenged him for the position. Gabriel has served on the council since 2010 and as mayor since 2016. Unofficial results from the City of Kenai show that Gabriel received 645 votes, compared to Winger’s 295 votes.
As of last Tuesday, just over 110 people had voted absentee in the City of Kenai. The vote totals reported Tuesday evening do not include absentee and questioned ballots.
Incumbents secured easy victories in Soldotna’s city council races, with council members Dave Carey and Lisa Parker winning reelection to their respective seats.
In the race for Seat D, Carey received 460 votes compared to challenger Erick Hugarte’s 166 votes. Carey is a former Kenai Peninsula Borough and Soldotna mayor and has held Seat D since 2019.
Parker received 397 votes compared to challenger Garrett Dominick’s 196 votes in her bid for Seat E. Parker, who has been on the council since 2016, currently serves as Soldotna’s vice mayor and sits on the University of Alaska Board of Regents.
Supporters turned out in droves for the Soldotna Field House, which received 468 votes in favor and 225 votes in opposition. The vote came more than three years after the same project failed by just 18 votes during a special election.
The approval of Prop. A, as the field house project appeared on the ballot, means that the City of Soldotna will incur up to $15 million for the construction of a field house of 42,000 square feet next to the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. The field house will include a 215-foot-by-115-foot play area, a three-lane track and other indoor facilities that would accommodate nonathletic activities.
In Homer, incumbent mayor Ken Castner, who ran unopposed for reelection, received 95% of the 759 regular votes cast. The number of regular votes cast does not include absentee, questioned or special needs ballots. Castner was elected in 2019.
Jason Davis and Storm Hansen were the top two vote getters among the five candidates vying for seats on the Homer City Council. Council members serve three-year terms. Davis received 33% of the more than 1,500 regular votes cast, while Hansen secured 31% of votes. Candidates Kenny Bryant, Mark Gordon and Jay Baker received 14%, 14% and 7% of votes, respectively.
Unofficial election results for the Oct. 4 municipal election can be found on the Kenai Peninsula Borough clerk’s website at kpb.us/assembly-clerk/elections/election-results.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at email@example.com.