Soldotna residents voted to stick to what they know during Tuesday’s regular election.
For seat A on the Soldotna City Council, long-time community member Fred Sturman challenged incumbent Paul Whitney for a three-year term and lost. Whitney garnered 331 votes, while Sturman received 218.
Whitney, a former police officer and member of the Soldotna City Council since 2013, said the race was positive in that it caused Soldotna residents to pay attention to the issues.
“I feel real honored that I got re-elected,” Whitney said. “I think the biggest thing is a lot of people listened to what we were saying, both candidates, and actually all the candidates.”
Whitney said his first order of business will be to fill the council seat left behind by Pete Sprague, who ran uncontested as the Soldotna mayoral candidate.
Sturman has lived in Soldotna for 50 years, and is a founding member of the Alliance of Concerned Taxpayers. Sturman said for him, the vote showed that the people of Soldotna do not want to change.
“I would like to have seen the city be more conservative, but I can see that people don’t want to be more conservative, so all I can do is say I hope they enjoy what happens in a few years,” Sturman said.
While he may have lost the city council seat, Sturman was happy about the passage of Proposition 1, he said.
Seat C incumbent candidate Linda Murphy was leading in the polls after Tuesday night with 265 votes before absentee votes are counted. Her challenger, Officer of Emergency Management Program Coordinator Dan Nelson, was not far behind with 254.
Nelson has also served on the Soldotna Planning and Zoning Commission since 2013. He said that while he and Murphy disagree on how to approach problems, they tend to agree on most issues.
“That could go either way,” Nelson said. “I’ll wait for the absentee ballots but I think overall Soldotna’s going to get somebody that’s good.”
Murphy did not return calls for comment by press time.
Lone Soldotna mayoral candidate Pete Sprague will take over for Mayor Nels Anderson following Tuesday’s election.
Sprague, a member of the Soldotna City Council before the election, won 484 votes. He will serve for two years.
One the passage of Proposition 1, Sprague said it is something that will need to be addressed by the city immediately. Overall, Sprague said he was happy with how the two council races turned out.
“I was really concerned about losing really just decades of experience with Ms. Murphy and Mr. Whitney,” Sprague said.
Some voters at the Soldotna area polls lamented the fact that their options weren’t more varied.
“I think the lack of more candidates may show a lack of civic participation,” said Susan Craig, a voter in Soldotna.
Others saw the lack of mayoral candidates as a sign that things are working as they should be.
“I think it shows that people are generally satisfied and paying attention to our community politics,” said Soldotna voter Rob Lewis.
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