Voters reject ballot propositions

Voters came out against taxes and government Tuesday.


Throughout the Kenai Peninsula Borough, voters rejected propositions to repeal a seasonal sales tax exemption, add a tax to support economic development and increase the size of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly and Board of Education.

Nikiski resident Eunice Witalec said no to all the propositions.

“We have enough government and we don’t need more,” Witalec said. 
Proposition one, which would have repealed the seasonal sales tax exemption on non-prepared food items, was voted down 5,740 votes to 2,524, according to Tuesday night’s unofficial results. Those results don’t include absentee ballots.

That means the Sept. 1 to May 31 exemption will stand.

Don Bridges, who voted Tuesday evening at the Challenger Center of Alaska in Kenai, said he likes voting because he loves Kenai.

“I think voting here is important to keep the city alive,” he said.

Bridges said he wanted to vote his belief that food taxes aren’t good for residents. They increase the cost of living, he said.

Jonathon Baldwin said he mainly wanted to vote for Debbie Brown. But he also weighed in on the propositions, voting for taxes “so that city can continue providing services.”

Laurie Booyse had a similar thought on the first proposition.

“I think that personally, originally it was a mistake to lower sales tax,”

Booyse said after voting in Soldotna.

If people need to pay some taxes to get the borough’s finances straightened out, she’s willing to do it, she said.

“We all need to take fiscal responsibility for living here,” Booyse said.

Brad Nyquist, a Kenai voter, said he didn’t want to repeal the grocery exemption. Food is a neccessity, he said.

“I like the nine-month exemption on food,” Nyquist said.

Ken Schaefer said he doesn’t particularly like sales tax, but he also doesn’t like loopholes that allow some people to get out of paying a tax while others carry the financial burden.

“So I voted that the exemption should be overthrown and there shouldn’t be an exemption to the sales tax,” Schaefer said after voting in Soldotna.

Proposition two, an effort to increase the borough sales tax by 0.1 percent, was voted down 6,763 votes to 1,520. The additional tax was meant to support economic development.

Sterling resident Bob Shassetz said he supported the proposition.

“I think we need something to get a stimulus of our economy here,” Shasstez said.

Nikiski resident Rhonda White agreed.

“I think it is good that they are trying to develop the area and make it prettier and bring in new businesses and stuff,” she said. “I was for that. I think it is worth the .1 percent.”

Deanne Pearson, who voted in Soldotna, said proposition two was one of the things she wanted to vote against.

“I want taxes to stay the same, I’m a single parent with not much money coming in,” Pearson said. “It was more of the ones I didn’t want — so made sure I voted against them.”

Kristine Dohse, a Nikiski resident, shared Pearson’s perspective.

“For those of us who live here year-round, we definitely could use the extra help ...,” Dohse said. “I just like the idea of getting the break, especially to feed families. I’m a stay-at-home mom so we are living on one income.”

Voters also opted to keep the size of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly and Board of Education at nine members, rather than increasing it to 11. Votes for the 9-member boards totaled 5,865, while 2,017 voters favored the increase.

Rocky Waterbury said he voted for the increase.

“I’d like to see it extended out to the 11, it gives them a few more people in there,” Waterbury said after voting in Soldotna Tuesday night.

Tammy Davis explained that she’d rather the borough not increase the cost by adding additional members.

“I voted to keep the nine districts rather than grow, I think that cost can be used towards other services,” Davis said.

Tuesday night’s results, which didn’t include absentee ballots, put voter turnout at about 20 percent. Those who went to the polls felt strongly about their choice to do so.

Mike Gustkey, a teacher at Soldotna Middle School who voted at the Challenger Center, said he did a voting units with his students. They filled out voter registration forms and got voter cards. All of the candidates for borough mayor, and some borough assembly candidates, came and talked to the students. Tuesday, the youth cast mock ballots.

So Gustkey felt obligated to cast his own ballot.

“Plus I’m the guy who writes letters to the editor telling folks they’re punks for not voting,” Gustkey said.

Karen Pulley, a Soldotna voter, agreed.

“I just think it’s your right to vote and if you don’t vote you can’t complain, so I think everyone should vote and have your voice heard,” Pulley said.

Kurtz Frizzell said he’s a regular at the Peninsula polling places, regardless of the issues on the ballot.

“I vote every election,” Frizzell said after voting in Kenai. “It’s just kind of a family tradition. I was brought up to vote, and I think it’s important.”

Hannah Heath, a 22-year-old who grew up on the central Peninsula, had a similar view. She said she was excited to start voting when she turned 18, and hasn’t lost that enthusiasm.

“In a town this small, my vote does count,” Heath said.

Terri Pate voted in Soldotna Tuesday night, and said she always votes when given the chance. Local elections are just as important, she said.

“We have more power on a smaller level, we have more control on what we have, we have more say-so here, as opposed to something on a state or national level,” Pate said. “I think it’s more important we vote in these areas because it starts here.”

Borough election results