With nearly 1,800 votes cast in the Kenai City Council race, incumbents Tim Navarre and Henry Knackstedt won the two vacant seats according to unofficial results reported Tuesday night.
Navarre received 30.61 percent of the votes to win re-election for a second term on the city council. Knackstedt edged incumbent Mike Boyle by 20 votes for the second council seat. Another challenger, Holly Spann, received 13 percent of the vote.
Navarre said he appreciated the support from the voters. He said he felt confident that he represented his views well through debate and he felt the voters reacted favorably to his stance to support the veteran’s memorial issue.
Tim Navarre celebrated with his brother Mike Navarre, who won a third term as Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor.
“I was more anxious to see his results because it was a race I felt ... had big implications for our community,” he said. “I look forward to another three years and being more proactive to address the issues that face our community.”
Navarre said he is excited for Knackstedt to join the council. He said he has worked with Knackstedt through the city’s planning and zoning commission and believes Knackstedt will make a good council member.
“He is very capable and ready to step into the council role and represent the people of Kenai,” Navarre said.
Knackstedt said he is anxious to get started. After the first two precinct results came in, Knackstedt trailed Boyle, with one district left. However, when the third district — one that contains Knackstedt’s Barabara Drive neighborhood — the margin of votes narrowed. By press time Tuesday Knackstedt lead Boyle by 20 votes with just the absentee ballots remaining. He said Tim Navarre might have been more excited for him when the results came in.
“I though he was going to hit the ceiling,” Knackstedt said. “He gave me a hug.
“A lot of what the council does is pay the bills,” he said. “It boils down to who I am, what I know and how I do things.”
Boyle, who has been on the council since 2004, said he was surprised by the results, but said one can never predict the Alaskan voter. He said Navarre and Knackstedt both seemed to be on the same page and worked together on the comprehensive plan that failed in a voter referendum last year.
“Realistically that scares me to think the voters went with the two candidates who went against them (on the comprehensive plan).”
Spann, 30, said she was more thrilled from the experience and receiving votes.
“This was a great opportunity to learn and gain insight about the city,” she said. “I’m more thrilled people believed in me. Hopefully I sparked a lot of interest in new people getting involved in the future.”
Knackstedt said he was out most of the day waving a campaign sign on Main Street. He called it a humbling, and fun experience. He commended his opponents on a good race.
“I appreciate the process to get here and earn a seat on the council,” he said. “It took a lot of hard work to get to this point. Nothing is worth having unless you work hard to get it.”
Kenai resident Les Wulf said he voted for Knackstedt and Boyle for the two vacant council seats. Wulf said Boyle has the experience and has proven to be sensitive to the public’s needs.
Kenai resident Sue Carter said she voted for Tim Navarre and Knackstedt because their families have a long history in Kenai and have the experience to understand the city’s issues.
Carter, who worked as Kenai City Clerk for five years in the 1970s, said she lived near Tim Navarre when she was growing up. Carter said when she first moved to Kenai, the oil industry was strong and brought in a lot of business to the Carr’s Mall. She voted Tuesday at the mall which is now mostly vacant. She said she believes the winning candidates’ experience on the planning and zoning commission will help business development.
“I like their idea on business and their vision for this community,” Carter said. “Everything has changed. I’m concerned about the current business climate. I believe (Navarre and Knackstedt) have strong direction for the future.”
Kenai resident Ed Witbeck said he didn’t vote for either Navarre because he felt that people who had been in politics for as long as the brothers’ had where only there to serve special interests. He said he voted for Spann and Knackstedt for new representation on the council.
Kenai resident Anthony Silvia participated in his first election and cast his vote at the Challenger Learning Center. He said he voted for Tim Navarre and Henry Knackstedt.
He said he liked Tim Navarre’s positive outlook and his emphasis on quality of live improvements to city parks. Silva’s friend Katie Evans both agreed Knackstedt was an experienced candidate that would bring a new voice to the council.
Reach Dan Balmer at email@example.com.