Voters in Kasilof, Clam Gulch, Ninilchik, Happy Valley and Nikolaevsk chose Paul Fischer to represent them on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Tuesday’s election.
According to the unofficial results, Fischer, of Kasilof, beat out competitors Bill Holt of Kasilof and Debbie Cary of Ninilchik for the seat in a three-way race to represent District 7. Incumbent representative Brent Johnson of Kasilof reached the two-term limit this fall.
With all precincts reporting, Fischer took 41.83 percent of the vote, according to the unofficial results. Holt took 37.09 percent of the vote and Cary took 20.02 percent. Fischer led in three precincts, while Holt led in Kasilof and Cary led in Ninilchik.
Fischer, who served on the assembly for multiple terms in the 1980s and prior to 2010 with a stint in the Legislature between, will rejoin the assembly for the first time since 2010. Fischer said he is concerned about a number of issues facing the borough assembly, including balancing the budget, the place of the invocation and the future of the marijuana industry.
He said he is happy with how the race went but doesn’t want to call it for sure until the absentee votes are counted. Volunteers on his campaign were especially helpful this time around, he said.
“Myself, I put two signs up — the volunteers did everything else,” Fischer said. “If you saw a sign out there, it was a volunteer that did it. I was asked to run — I didn’t even want to run. They apparently liked my conservatism.”
Voters were particularly concerned about the place of the invocation in the assembly, he said. A controversy in the summer led to discussion of a possible ban on invocations before the borough assembly meetings, and when the assembly instead decided to open the prayer to all religions, outcry rose when a member of the Temple of Satan offered an invocation. The assembly is scheduled to consider a set of policy guidelines at its next meeting.
He said many people have called him throughout the race, curious about his position on various issues.
“(The race) was interesting,” Fischer said. “You did get a chance to meet people you hadn’t met for a long time.”
Cary said she thinks the race went well and congratulated the winner. She said she will continue to be involved in borough and school district issues in the future.
“I want to help with the budget process, especially at the school district level,” Cary said. “I’m not going anywhere. I think the more I’m around, the more that people will get to know me. And I will continue talking to people and continue trying to support accomplishing something, because we need to accomplish something if we want to keep moving forward.”
Holt, who has sat on the Board of Education for the past eight years, will retain his seat there — he would have had to resign if elected to the borough assembly. He said the race Tuesday did not go the way he wanted it to but he congratulated Fischer and said he looks forward to working with him in the future between the Board of Education and the borough assembly.
“I think the school board’s really important,” Holt said. “I enjoy doing it. I just felt like there was a need to run for the assembly too. I have a growing interest in assembly issues.”
Wayne Ogle (District 3/Nikiski) and Dale Bagley (District 4/Soldotna) ran unopposed for the other assembly seats on the ballot.
Reach Elizabeth Earl at email@example.com.