Three seats up for grabs

Sterling/Funny River, Homer assembly seats contested

In four days, Peninsula voters will decide the fate several borough assembly seats in next Tuesday's election.


Up for grabs are the Homer, Sterling/Funny River and Kenai seats.

Incumbent assembly member Hal Smalley, who represents the Kenai district, is running unopposed for re-election.

Smalley said he has received positive community feedback regarding his bid to continue his public service.

"I still want to continue working in the direction that I started in three years ago and my interest was that the schools are funded adequately and that we're taking care of our solid waste and we are working the best we can on road improvements," he said.

He added that he would fight to continue to keep the mill rate low and maintain a healthy hospital that provides affordable health care.

Incumbent assembly member Charlie Pierce is running against Eileen K. Sverdrup for the Sterling/Funny river seat.

Pierce said he feels very positive and confident about his candidacy.

"I feel I have been effective as an assembly member," he said. "I believe I have provided a common sense approach to making government a more functional process and I think I'm one of the individuals on the assembly that brings a business perspective to the discussions."

He said he would like to continue working toward a balanced budget and not keep dipping into the fund balance to fund the day-to-day operations of the borough.

"Some people say a government can not be run like a business, but I disagree with them," he said. "I think if governments were run more like businesses, this nation in general wouldn't be in the position we are today."

Sverdrup said she is gaining confidence in both her candidacy and the voting process as the election draws closer.

"This is the first time I have ever done anything like this, so there is a steep learning curve," she said.

She said she was motivated to run after becoming frustrated with government at the federal and state levels.

"Then I realized, 'Well what am I doing?'" she said. "I get that we have quite a bureaucracy that we have built up, and now we are frustrated with our bureaucracy and maybe we need to streamline that and bring the issues to the voters for a while."

She added that she would like to focus on streamlining government, heath care-related issues and education funding.

"I think we have a problem getting that money to trickle down with our current system and we need to address it," she said of schools funding. "Whether we can solve it by ourselves or not is of course a different issue."

Three candidates are vying for the Homer seat -- incumbent Bill Smith, Kelly Cooper and Bryan Zak.

Smith said his campaign went well and he is hoping his record and name recognition carry him through.

"The opponents that I have are decent people and should be able to pull a respectable vote," he said. "So, I really have no idea how the interplay between the candidates and the issues will pull out."

Smith contends that if an incumbent doesn't anger his or her constituents, they stand a good chance of getting re-elected.

"I haven't talked to anyone that's mad at me, but I could be missing something," he said.

"I've gotten a lot of things done and I have a to do list. Basically, I'd look to get positive things done."

Zak said he was pleased with the results of his bid for the assembly.

"I feel like I communicated my message clearly as to what I could bring to the voters and really felt like I communicated the importance of getting out and voting," he said.

Zak said he was in favor of working toward economic development across the Peninsula.

"I'll take a stand on issues even though at the time it might not seem like it might be the majority's, however, I feel like standing up for citizens, and if a regulatory action is broken we can't not take any action," he said. "... We need to really stand up for all of the people all of the time even if it is a minority needing some support."

Zak added that he would focus on listening to what the voters' intent was, if elected.

"The key is just communicating and I feel like the assembly needs to listen," he said. "In some cases in the past I feel like they haven't listened as effectively as they could."

Cooper said her volunteer work exposure has been positive she has a feeling people "understand and appreciate" her leadership style. She said she might suffer a bit though because her name isn't well known in political circles.

But, the campaign has been a "breath of fresh air" and the competition has been respectful.

"I think the skill set that I bring is my unique approach to problem-solving," she said. "I can be told, 'Nope, that won't work' and I just don't give up that easily. I look outside of the box to see if there are other ways we can approach it."

She added that she would be proactive, make open-minded decisions and have "open and frank" communication.

"I like to hear input from the people that I am representing regardless of what group that would be," she said. "I think a two-way communication is really important and that I'm accessible and available and I don't make decisions before I enter the room."

Brian Smith can be reached at