Plenty at stake on this fall's ballot

This year’s election season should, thankfully, be a little shorter than last year’s frenzy — but it is by no means any less significant.

Candidates for national and state offices have already started their campaigning, but they won’t be on the ballot until 2014. Instead, on Oct. 1, voters will be weighing in on local issues — candidates for municipal government and slate of ballot propositions. While these candidates and issues may not generate the same hype, the municipal election results will have a much more direct impact on the day to day lives of Kenai Peninsula residents than almost any decision made in Juneau or Washington, D.C. If elected, these candidates will be tasked with setting borough, school district and city policy, determining mill and sales tax rates, and deciding how that money is spent. None of those are decisions that can be taken lightly.

First, some important deadlines for residents who intend to vote in the election. The deadline to register to vote is Sept. 1. Voter registration information is available at city halls, the borough administration building, and online at http://www.elections.alaska.gov. The state elections website also includes a tool to verify your voter status, if you’re unsure.

Absentee voting begins on Sept. 16.

At the borough level, three assembly seats are up for grabs. Wayne Ogle and Steve Chamberlain are on the ballot for the District 3-Nikiski seat; Dale Bagley and Linda Murphy are running for the District 4-Soldotna seat; and Brent Johnson, Travis Swanson and Damon Yerly are running for the District 7-Central Peninsula seat.

Three school board seats are on the ballot. Daniel Castimore and Shawn Hutchings are running for the District 1-Kalifornsky seat. Lynn Hohl (District 6-East Peninsula) and Sunni Hilts (District 9-South Peninsula) are running unopposed.

Voters will also decide four borough-wide ballot propositions. Proposition 1 would increase the residential property tax exemption. Proposition 2 asks voters to approve capital project bonds for the school district. Proposition 3A would repeal term limits on assembly members; 3B would change the limit on the number of consecutive terms an assembly member can serve.

Kenai voters will be voting for mayor — Pat Porter and Bob Molloy are running for that position. Three candidates, Terry Bookey, Mark Schrag and Brian Gabriel Sr. are running for two council seats. Voters also will decide four ballot propositions. Proposition 1 would repeal the city council’s approval of the comprehensive plan. Proposition 2 would repeal the mayor’s ability to grant pardons, parole or commutation of penalties for violations of city code. Proposition 3 would remove milk and milk products from the list of items the council regulates. Proposition 4 would change wording in the city charter to remove masculine references and replace them with gender-neutral terms.

In Soldotna, five candidates are on the ballot for city council seats. Dave Carey and Meggean Bos are running for Seat B. Regina Daniels is running for Seat D, and Paul Whitney and Keith Baxter are running for Seat E.

More information is available on the borough and city websites:

■ Kenai Peninsula Borough: http://www.borough.kenai.ak.us/assembly-clerk/elections/candidate-election-information

■ City of Kenai: http://www.ci.kenai.ak.us/voter_information.htm

■ City of Soldotna: http://www.ci.soldotna.ak.us/elections.html

Good luck to all of the candidates. Just putting your name of the ballot takes courage in this day and age. We applaud your commitment and dedication. We’re looking forward to a thorough debate of the issues facing our community.

Voters, make sure to learn about those same issues and learn your candidates’ positions. And make sure you cast a ballot, absentee or in person. There’s a lot at stake this fall; don’t let your voice go unheard.

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