In between casts, time to think about the future

It's July on the Kenai Peninsula, and while we're preoccupied with all things fishing, there's a couple of important dates looming.

The first of those dates is July 29 -- that's the deadline to register to vote in the Aug. 28 primary election.

This year's primary will look a little different. For one thing, the state's legislative district boundaries have been redrawn.

Nikiski voters are now in House District 28, along with residents of Sterling and the eastern portion of the Kenai Peninsula, including Seward. Current Speaker of the House Mike Chenault, a Nikiski Republican, is running unopposed for that seat.

House District 28 is linked with House District 29, which includes South Anchorage and Turnagain Arm communities, to form Senate District N. The primary contest includes incumbent Cathy Giessel of Anchorage and Joe Arness of Nikiski on the Republican ballot. The primary winner will face Ron Devon of Anchorage in the November general election.

Moving south, the Kenai-Soldotna-Kalifornsky Beach house district remains generally the same, though it has a new designation -- House District 29. Republican Kurt Olson of Soldotna is running for re-election and will face Gary Knopp of Kenai, the current borough assembly president, in the primary. The winner will run unopposed in the general election.

The rest of the central and southern Kenai Peninsula, from Kasilof to Seldovia and including Funny River, now falls into House District 30. Homer Republican Paul Seaton is running for re-election against Jon Faulkner, also of Homer. Elizabeth R. Diament of Fritz Creek is on the Democratic ballot.

House Districts 29 and 30 now make up Senate District O. In the primary, Kenai Republican Tom Wagoner is running for re-election against current Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche. The winner will not face any opposition in the general election.

A slew of candidates have lined up to challenge Don Young, a Republican, for Alaska's only seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Democrats include Debra Chesnut of Fairbanks, Sharon M. Cissna of Anchorage, Matt Moore of Anchorage, Doug Urquidi of Eagle Rive, and Frank J. Vondersaar of Homer. Jim C. McDermott of Fairbanks is running as a Libertarian.

Republican challengers include John R. Cox of Anchor Point and Terre L. Gales of Eagle River.

There are two ballot measures to be decided in the primary. Ballot Measure 1 would allow a city or borough to raise the property tax exemption on a residence from $20,000 to $50,000. Ballot Measure 2 would establish a Coastal Zone Management program.

Pay close attention when registering to vote; under Alaska primary rules, only voters registered as Republicans, or nonpartisan or undeclared, may choose the Republican ballot. Any registered voter may choose the Democratic/Libertarian/Alaska Independence ballot, or the ballot measures-only ballot.

So yes, it's a busy time for everyone on the Peninsula. But there's some big issues to be decided soon, and it's time to start thinking about who we want to see making those decisions for us.

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