One incumbent lost, another kept his seat and the one open seat went to the less conservative candidate of the two running for office.
With the unofficial results of Tuesday’s assembly election in, the anadromous waters habitat protection ordinance — the most controversial action in the recent history of the Kenai Peninsula Borough — will likely remain on the books without enough votes to over turn it.
“I’m thankful for that,” said Brent Johnson, the District 7 incumbent who fended off two challengers in Central Kenai Peninsula to retain his seat and keep the balance in favor salmon protections.
Time will prove the assembly’s choice to expand protections of salmon waters from the 1996 law governing the Kenai River, which started it all, Johnson said.
“The sky will not fall,” Johnson said.
The results remain preliminary until final certification. This year’s election saw a 22 percent turnout from the 41,000 registered voters in the borough, up nine percent from the previous year.
Looking to oust the first-term assembly member and commercial fisherman Johnson were Travis Swanson and Damon Yerly, both sons of the Peninsula who spent time Outside only to return to Alaska, settle in and decide to participate in community government.
In Nikiski’s District 3, the race to replace one-term assembly member Ray Tauriainen was between two self-identifying conservatives. Wayne Ogle, a retired Coast Guard officer and former municipal public works director, who based his campaign on the idea that the local government should be smaller, cost less and be less intrusive. While Steve Chamberlain, owner of Charlie’s Pizza, set a more specific campaign running to get the seat and use it to conduct a healthy water campaign based on sampling drinking water wells in the community.
Ogle was winning the race by a 34 percent margin with 93 percent of the vote in.
“I’m very grateful to the voters of Nikiski,” Ogle said. “For those who did not vote for me, I will work to win their trust in the future.”
Running for the Soldotna District 4 seat was incumbent Linda Murphy and Soldotna city councilman Dale Bagley.
With 100 absentee votes still to be counted, Murphy did not believe she would sweep up enough votes to win the race, which was 13 points in Bagley’s favor as of 10 p.m. Tuesday.
“Dale obviously ran a good race,” Murphy said, before standing behind her record on the assembly as one she is proud of.
Wishing her opponent well, Murphy said she was slightly concerned about the “streams ordinance” but with Johnson’s win in District 7 the scale should not tip.
Bagley said he was happy to get the campaign and election behind him and that he would think about what’s first for him as an assembly member this morning.
Reach Greg Skinner at firstname.lastname@example.org.