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Anderson wins seat

Soldotna voters pick mayor in special election

Posted: April 2, 2013 - 9:17pm  |  Updated: April 3, 2013 - 7:19am
Parker Johnson, 1, peeks around the curtain as his mother Ruth Johnson votes during the special mayoral election Tuesday April 2, 2013 in Soldotna, Alaska.  Voters will elect a mayor to serve until October 2014.   Rashah McChesney
Rashah McChesney
Parker Johnson, 1, peeks around the curtain as his mother Ruth Johnson votes during the special mayoral election Tuesday April 2, 2013 in Soldotna, Alaska. Voters will elect a mayor to serve until October 2014.

Katelyn Morrison, 7, and her mother Chrissy Morrison voted for Soldotna’s new mayor Tuesday.

Katelyn, in her school classroom, voted because her preferred candidate “is cool.” Chrissy, because she “liked what he stood for.”

Both Morrisons said they were keeping their candidate choices secret.

“I feel it’s very private and I’m teaching her how private it is,” Chrissy said. “And, so she doesn’t have to go back to her classmates and say ‘Oh, my mom voted for this one’ and there be an argument.”

Soldotna’s voters — more than 500 of them — voted overwhelmingly to elect former city council member Dr. Nels Anderson into the mayor’s office.

According to the city’s unofficial results, Anderson won 59.77 percent of the votes to Dave Carey’s 39.46 percent.

“I really thought I was the underdog and so I’m kind of humbled by the results,” Anderson said. “I’m going to do my best to make sure people feel like they did the right thing.”

So, two Wednesdays a month — until October 2014 when his partial term will expire — Anderson will be in the mayor’s seat for council meetings. The other two, he’ll be at meetings for the Boy Scout troop he leads in Soldotna.

Anderson’s Scouts were partially responsible for his campaign. He refused to put his name in to fill the vacant position until they voted to allow him to run.

Atinae Lepule voted for Anderson.

With three of her kids in tow, and one on the way, Lepule said it was her first time voting and she was excited to do so.

While the mom has been in Soldotna since 2004, she was born in Samoa and got her citizenship papers last year.

“I’ve known him for a long time,” she said of Anderson. “He’s the kid’s doctor and he seems really nice.”

Her husband, Tai Lepule, said he was voting as well because “every vote counts.”

Anderson, who has been away from city council meetings since his term ended in October 2012, said the first thing he would do is talk to the city manager.

“I know some things, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a lot of things I need to be brought to snuff on,” he said. “I’m particularly interested in the trails and the beautification things in the city and I would like to work on those.”

Also on Anderson’s radar, a location for the quilter’s association to hold their annual event, and maintaining former mayor Peter Micciche’s “Bike and Skate and Skoot Challenge” as well as the Dutch Oven Cook-Off.

Before he takes on any of the challenges of the mayoral office, however, Anderson said he had a full evening ahead of him Tuesday.

“I’m dead tired,” he said.

Anderson and his wife stayed up until 1 a.m. putting “Vote Today” messages on his election signs, then he was up at 6:30 a.m. at the hospital getting people there to hold signs and encourage people to vote.

Now that he’s been elected, Anderson has yet to relax.

“I’ve got a lady in labor who’s probably going to deliver at about 3 in the morning,” he said.

Ultimately, Anderson said he wanted voters to know that he’s extremely honored and would try not to disappoint them.

Former Soldotna Mayor Carey said he thought the voters made a good choice in electing Anderson.

Carey said he would have no shortage of activities to keep him busy including his ministry at the prison and work to become ordained.

Carey said he had been encouraging people to vote for him for the last few days and was happy with the results as drivers interacted with him as he waved a sign on Redoubt Avenue.

“I’ve always been so impressed with the friendliness of the people of Soldotna,” he said.

Rashah McChesney can be reached at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com.

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