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Early election results show no change to Homer city council and second failed utility sale

City of Homer
Homer City Hall was one of five polling centers around the city today.

Unofficial results in the Kenai Peninsula’s Oct. 3 municipal election show several incumbent victories on city councils, some upsets on the school board and a lack of support for the Seward utility sale. As of an Oct. 9 update, all votes have been counted, but elections have not yet been certified.

Polls were open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. last Tuesday, and absentee voting opened on Sept. 18. Turnout is at 15.6% borough-wide.

Homer City Council 

Four candidates are running for two open seats on Homer City Council. Preliminary results have incumbent Rachel Lord in the lead with 37%, or 681 votes. Incumbent Caroline Venuti trails with 35%. Newcomer Joni Wise follows them with 21% of the vote. Dan Hasche has 6% of the vote, and the remaining 1% are write-in votes. There are still 375 absentee ballots to be verified.

Assembly Homer Seat

With all districts reporting, former Borough Assembly Member Kelly Cooper leads with 60.5%, or 764 votes. Former Homer City Council Member Heath Smith has 39.5%, or 498 votes.

Seward City Council

In Seward, three candidates are running for two open seats on the city council. Incumbent Robert Barnwell currently leads the pack with 225 votes, or 47.1%. Julie Crites is following closely with 223 votes, 46.8%. Brad Snowden has 6%.

Seward Ballot Propositions 

Unofficial results suggest that the proposition for the city to sell its electric utility to Homer Electric Association failed, with 46% of the vote out of the 60% needed to pass. This would be the second time the proposition failed this year. The proposition to change that threshold to 50% also failed with 39% yeses.

Assembly Nikiski Seat

In Nikiski, incumbent Peter Ribbens, who was appointed to the seat earlier this year, leads by 23 votes: he has 51.4%, or 419 votes. Challenger Adam Bertoldo has 48.6%, or 396 votes.

Assembly Sterling Seat

Incumbent Bill Elam has a huge lead in the race for the Sterling assembly seat, with 80%, or 336 votes. Nissa Savage has 20% of votes, or 85 of 421 votes cast.

Board of Education Central Seat 

In the school board’s central district, which includes Kasilof and Ninilchik, Board of Education President Debbie Cary has fallen behind challenger Dianne MacRae by 12 votes. MacRae holds 51%, or 308 votes, while Cary has 49%, at 296 votes.

Board of Education Nikiski Seat

Incumbent Jason Tauriainen leads with 57% of the vote for Nikiski’s board of education seat, with 471 votes out of 820 cast. Challenger Lyndsey Bertoldo has 43%, or 394 votes.

Board of Education Sterling Seat

In Sterling, Kelly Cizek has a major lead over incumbent Beverly Romanin, who was appointed to the position last October. Cizek holds 64% of the vote, while Romanin has 36%.

Uncontested Races

Borough Mayor Peter Micciche is running unopposed for his first full term, after winning a special election in February. Ryan Tunseth is unopposed in his race for the borough assembly’s Kenai seat, after incumbent Richard Derkevorkian chose not to run for reelection. Incumbent Penny Vadla is the sole candidate for the Board of Education’s Soldotna seat.

Kenai City Council 

There are four candidates vying for two open seats on the Kenai City Council. With all Kenai districts reporting, incumbent Henry Knackstedt leads with 30%, or 318 votes. Incumbent Teea Winger is next with 24%. Phil Daniel trails Winger by just six votes. Glenese Pettey follows with 22% of the vote.

Soldotna City Council & Mayor

Incumbent Dan Nelson is ahead in the race for Seat D, with 69% to Garrett Dominick’s 31%. Mayor Paul Whitney and Councilmember Chera Wackler are running uncontested.

What’s next

The borough will certify its elections on Tuesday, Oct. 10. The City of Kenai will certify its results on Oct. 19. The City of Homer will certify its results on Oct. 6, and the City of Seward will on Oct. 9.

Jamie Diep is a reporter/host for KBBI from Portland, Oregon. They joined KBBI right after getting a degree in music and Anthropology from the University of Oregon. They’ve built a strong passion for public radio through their work with OPB in Portland and the Here I Stand Project in Taipei, Taiwan.Jamie covers everything related to Homer and the Kenai Peninsula, and they’re particularly interested in education and environmental reporting. You can reach them at to send story ideas.