Soldotna voters elected two newcomers to public office to fill two contested city council seats Tuesday.
Unofficial results show seat E’s new council member is Keith Baxter with 315 votes, while his opponent, Paul Whitney, got 178 votes.
“I’m really excited to be voted in,” Baxter said. “I put a lot of effort into the campaign, and it was a positive race.”
Results have Meggean Bos at 285 votes, with a narrow 23-vote lead in the seat B race. Her opponent, Dave Carey, came in at 262 votes Tuesday night. The official count waits on absentee ballots.
Bos said she doesn’t want to get “too excited” about the unofficial results, but is excited to represent all Soldotna residents.
“There is no question in my mind in term of the results, and (Bos) will make a good member of city council,” Carey said.
Incumbent Regina Daniels, who was running unopposed, was re-elected to seat D with 451 votes.
Of the 3,274 registered voters in Soldotna, about 36 percent voted. Soldotna City Clerk Shellie Saner 34 absentee ballots were sent out. Fifteen were returned by noon Tuesday. Any absentee ballots postmarked Tuesday and received by Oct. 9 will be counted. The council will certify results at its Oct. 9 meeting.
Central Emergency Services Fire Marshal Gary Hale stopped by Soldotna City Hall to cast his votes. Hale said he votes in every election and wishes more people would partake.
“It’ your civic duty,” he said “In my opinion, you need to be proactive and help solve the problem.”
Hale said his votes were based on what he read about candidates’ experiences, educations and affiliated organizations in the Kenai Peninsula Borough voter information pamphlet. He was also able to speak to some of the candidates about the election.
After about 5 p.m., Jennifer Cowan went to city hall to cast her vote. She said in a small town voters “get to see people’s records more clearly,” so she voted based on personal experience with candidates.
Penny Vadla said she considered the past and what she wants to see in the future for the community when making her vote.
“I based my decision on somebody new, and somebody who might offer a fresh perspective,” she said about voting for Soldotna council members.
The two newcomers may bring that new outlook.
“I’ve very excited to bring about a fresh face to the city council,” Bos said.
She said the 23 vote difference between her and her opponent shows that every vote counts.
The Soldotna High School teacher, said in her one-year term, she can work toward building a foundation for the future of the community. Within the year, she would also like to see a teen center open in Soldotna. She wants to keep property tax low and make sure the variety of Soldotna residents’ needs are considered.
“I’m happy with the (voting) results and will be even happier when those results are official,” she said.
Baxter said the race has everything he wanted when he filed his candidacy packet and is excited to know he has voter support.
Baxter works at the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council and has always been interested in politics. He said he benefits from being a newcomer to public office because people are comfortable talking to him about their views and concerns. While on council, he wants to see discussions about salmon and fisheries issues at the city level because “it really affects the city.”
“I couldn’t be more excited to be part of the council,” he said.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.