Welles to resign from assembly

Assembly member Stan Welles has submitted his resignation from the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly.

Welles submitted his resignation in a resolution to be considered by the assembly at its meeting Tuesday. If the assembly accepts it, he will resign effective Aug. 19, leaving his seat to be filled at the Oct. 3 regular election.

Welles, who represents Sterling, Funny River and a stretch of the area between Soldotna and Kasilof, has served on the assembly since 2014. In June, he underwent open-heart surgery, and the recovery time has taken longer than he thought, he said.

“It went well, but a great deal was done in the heart, so as a consequence, I fatigue very easily,” he said. “I’m operating at about 30 percent, and it’s amazing how much healing is going on in the heart. At the same time that it’s healing, it’s also having to keep me functioning.”

He’s currently in rehabilitation three days per week, which takes a lot of time and energy, he said. Although he had to travel out of state for some of the medical treatment, he said he’s able to stay in the area for the follow-up, but the long assembly meetings — which can sometimes run from 3 p.m. until midnight, including the committee meetings — are demanding.

This is Welles’ second extensive medical treatment in a year. Last summer, he underwent treatment for cancer and was absent from the assembly meetings for several months before returning in the fall.

“It’s been the best part of a year just getting recovered from last year,” he said.

Under borough code, the assembly has to fill a vacancy no later than the second meeting after the resignation is accepted unless it is within 45 days of a regular election. In this case, the Oct. 3 regular election is within that timeframe, so the assembly won’t go through the interview and appointment process to fill Welles’ seat, according to the resolution on the assembly’s agenda for the Tuesday meeting.

The deadline to file for candidacy for the assembly seat is 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Two people have already filed for candidacy in that district: Leslie Morton and Norm Blakeley. Candidate information and packets can be obtained on the borough website, at the clerk’s office at the George A. Navarre Borough Administration Building in Soldotna or at the borough annex buildings in Seward and Homer or at the Seldovia City Clerk’s office in Seldovia.

Welles won the seat in 2014 by a large margin. A former aerospace engineer who owned Pioneer Pizza in Homer for a decade before retiring to Sterling, he ran on a platform of scrutinizing and reducing government spending.

Throughout his time on the assembly, Welles has advocated for cutting the borough budget and opposed raising taxes. He has ardently opposed the legalization and commercialization of cannabis, sometimes voting against licenses, and was one of the strongest voices on the assembly for instituting the assembly’s invocation policy, now the subject of a lawsuit before the Alaska Superior Court.

Welles said he received permission from Assembly President Kelly Cooper to miss both the meetings in August because of his health but managed to attend the Aug. 1 meeting and said Monday that he planned to attend the Tuesday meeting.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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