Election result leave plenty to talk about

  • Saturday, October 10, 2015 4:50pm
  • Opinion

Interpreting the will of the voters is always a tricky thing. Two people can vote the same way on an issue, yet do so for completely different reasons. Indeed, the reasons behind which bubbles get filled in on the ballot can be as varied as the number of voters themselves.

One thing that is fairly straightforward on the Kenai Peninsula is that residents here are reluctant to approve any new tax — and are generally eager to approve measures that reduce the tax burden. Fifty-nine percent of voters said yes to Proposition 1, which repealed the authority granted to general law cities to levy a sales tax on groceries from September through May, when they are exempted from borough sales tax.

Then again, borough residents do tend to recognize public safety as a priority; 58 percent of voters in the Central Emergency Service Area OK’d bonds — and a mill rate increase to repay them — for Central Emergency Services to replace aging emergency vehicles.

The results of Proposition 2, which asked voters to form a Nikiski Law Enforcement Area, certainly are open to interpretation as that measure also included a property tax levy to pay for it. There appears to have been significant community support for an increased police presence in Nikiski. Were voters casting ballots against the proposed service area itself, or simply rejecting the proposed tax increase? Last year’s advisory vote on limited animal control outside of incorporated cities comes to mind. That ballot proposition was broken into two parts, and voters narrowly approved of animal control while rejecting the property tax that would have paid for it.

The impact of this year’s election in Kenai also will be interesting to watch moving forward as city voters approved ballot measures to change the city charter regarding how city council members are elected. In the future, the city council will have designated seats, similar to Soldotna.

Interestingly, the top vote-getters on the city council ballot were both opposed to the measure.

And in Soldotna, city voters were overwhelmingly against the grocery tax measure, Proposition 1 — after rejecting a charter commission last winter that would have allowed the city to set its own tax policy, among other things.

There are still a few things to wrap up with this year’s election as canvass boards meet, absentee ballots are counted and the borough assembly and city councils certify results. Even in what might be termed an off year, Kenai Peninsula politics are always interesting, and the 2015 election will certainly fuel plenty of discussion in the weeks and months to come.

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