Borough mayor candidates Mike Navarre and Fred Sturman will have to wait a few more days, and maybe as long as a week, before knowing for sure who will take the seat as the next Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor.
After Tuesday’s run-off election, Navarre leads Sturman in votes, but borough clerk Johni Blankenship said there are about 1,500 to 2,000 absentee and in-question ballots that still need to be counted.
“I wouldn’t call it,” Blankenship said.
Navarre took 3,923 votes, or 51.53 percent of the vote, which is just slightly more than Fred Sturman, who gathered 3,690 votes, or 48.47 percent.
Of the 41,067 registered voters, 7,640 cast a ballot Tuesday, which is a voter turnout of 18.6 percent, according to the borough.
Sturman won in the Sterling, Salamatof, Ninilchik, Nikiski, Kasilof, Funny River, Central and Anchor Point precincts.
Navarre won in the Tyonek, Soldotna, Seward, Seldovia, Moose Pass, Mackey Lake, Kenai, Kalifornsky Beach, Kachemak City/Fritz Creek, Kachemak Bay, Hope, Homer, Diamond Ridge, Cooper Landing and Bear Creek precincts.
Navarre said he was in a good position to take the race.
“I have been in a lot of campaigns and it is much better to be ahead at this point than behind,” he said. “Obviously it is too close to call and we have to see what happens with the absentee votes but I feel pretty good.”
Sturman said he had “no idea” how the final results would shake out.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” he said.
Blankenship said a final tally would be available by Tuesday, when the borough is required to certify the election results.
Sturman said he knew it was going to be a tough fight.
“I kind of figured it was going to be a pretty dog gone tight race because he has been around in areas longer than I have and I knew he was strong in Seward and Kenai,” he said. “In the main cities he was a lot stronger than I was and I knew I had to get the outside communities and we pretty well got our own areas.”
Navarre agreed, but added that “quite frankly I didn’t think it would have been this close.”
“It was really tough to get a feel for it,” he said. “Part of it was just depending on the turnout and some areas had pretty good turnout and some areas had pretty bad turnout.”
Sturman and Navarre both agreed whatever the final result, they would both have a long conversation and share “campaign stories and what each thinks the direction the borough should go in is,” Navarre said.
“I just talked to Mike and we congratulated each other for running a good clean race and as soon as we get the signs all gathered up we’ll clean up in the next two or three days and we are going to sit down and have a cup of coffee and talk about the race,” Sturman said.
Both candidates said they were impressed with the tenor of the campaign season.
“We talked during the course of the campaign and decided that whoever won we were going to sit down and talk with each other,” Navarre said, also thanking those who contributed to his campaign. “It was a good friendly campaign. No negative to it at all. I appreciate that and I know that Fred did too.”
Said Sturman, “We pretty well agree that however it come out we would work together and we would try and help each other to make this a better community.”