What voters should know about the special election for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor
In a special election next week, voters will choose between four candidates for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor, following the resignation of former Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce last summer. The winner of the special election will serve through the next regularly scheduled municipal election, in October. The role is currently filled by interim Mayor Mike Navarre.
Candidates Dave Carey, Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings, Zach Hamilton and Peter Micciche are all running for the borough’s top seat.
Kenai Peninsula Borough voters can cast their ballots at in-person absentee voting sites ahead of Election Day. Polls are open at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Clerk’s office and Homer annex office between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. They’re open at the Kenai clerk’s office, Seldovia clerk’s office and Seward clerk’s office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Election day is Tuesday, Feb. 14. If no one candidate receives a majority of votes, there will be a runoff on March 7.
KBBI’s Sean McDermott spoke with Therese Lewandowski from the League of Women Voters and Kenai Peninsula Votes — two nonpartisan voting organizations — about what voters should expect.
THERESE LEWANDOWSKI: So this is a special election due to the previous mayor stepping down to run for governor. And per borough code, Feb. 14 is the established Election Day. And I know that's Valentine's Day. So if you're going to do walk-in voting on Election Day, please bring chocolate for all the election workers. The seat is only through October, which will complete the three-year mayoral term, and then there'll be another election.
SEAN MCDERMOTT: Is there anything that people need to know about casting their ballot early or on election day?
LEWANDOWSKI: We hold early election two weeks prior. And for the borough election, you can do in-person voting at the borough annex building, which is to the right of the fire department. That office is open from 8 to 4. And you can do that now. That's early absentee in person voting, you go in, you fill out a form, and they take your ballot. Or you can vote on Election Day, which is Tuesday, Feb. 14, and all the usual voting sites will be open: City Hall, the Methodist Church, the Chamber of Commerce, Kachemak City. And those are your voting sites for whatever precinct you’re in.
MCDERMOTT: From there can you briefly introduce voters to the four candidates they're going to see on their ballot.
LEWANDOWSKI: The four candidates are Dave Carey, Zach Hamilton, Linda Farnsworth Hutchings and Peter Micciche. They're all local people on the peninsula, and they're all very invested and concerned about our community.
You know, we need to be aware that if a candidate doesn't get 50% plus one vote, there will be a runoff election. If there is a runoff election, that will be held March 7. So we'll be going through this all over again.
MCDERMOTT: Are there other resources besides ones that you've mentioned already, that you would suggest for people who want to learn more about the candidates or to find out where to cast their ballot on Election Day?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, you can go to the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s website Kenai Peninsula borough elections, I would Google. That homepage is excellent. You can find out where your precinct is, you can look up candidate statements. You can see what all the polling offices are, you can look at election results.
As far as finding out more information on the candidates, their statements on the website all have emails, and they all have website links for their information. And people should email them, they can call them, they can look at their website and see what they stand for and what they're interested in accomplishing as a borough mayor. If you haven't been able to listen to the forums, the forums have been great. There's been great questions as to these candidates.
MCDERMOTT: Thank you so much for sharing all of that information. Do you have anything else to say to voters before they head to the polls?
LEWANDOWSKI: These folks are running and sacrificing a lot of time to represent us at the local level. And they do a lot of hard work. Most elections — local elections — have a very low voter turnout. In our borough elections, in our city elections, the voter turnout is usually between 15 and 20%. Although in 2020, it was almost 30%. That's opposed to state [and] federal elections in the state of Alaska. Those are like 45 to 60% voter turnout.
People are more engaged in partisan politics than they are in local elections that have more to do with our day-to-day lives than at the upper levels. I mean, it's all important, but what these folks do impact our day-to-day lives, our roads, our schools, our hospitals, our environment.
You know, those are very important things. You think about the landfills, you think about plowing, you think about the South Peninsula Hospital, Central Peninsula Hospital, these folks make decisions about those areas. And so I really encourage people to learn about these candidates and really come out on Election Day and vote. It's very important.