Smalley jumping back into election arena

Posted: Monday, February 04, 2002

A familiar face is seeking a return to elected office.

Former state House Rep. Hal Smalley, D-Kenai, formally acknowledged his intention to run for the newly apportioned District 33 at Wednesday's Kenai Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

"I miss the activity," Smalley said following the luncheon. "There are a lot of things that need to be dealt with."

One of those things, he said, is bringing together the new district in which he'll be running, which includes Soldotna, Kenai and Kalifornsky Beach Road down to Coal Creek.

"The two communities and K-Beach have a lot in common," Smalley said.

Smalley held the District 9 seat (Nikiski and Kenai) for one two-year term before losing to Republican Mike Chenault in the November 2000 election. Chenault carried 51.4 percent of the popular vote and Smalley carried 40.9 percent.

Prior to that, Smalley served about 11 years on the Kenai City Council and had retired from teaching after more than 20 years.

Smalley said he does not have a specific platform to run on yet, because the state Legislature is still in session. He said he does have a focus in mind, but anticipates more direction to come as the legislative session comes to a close.

"Maintaining the general quality of life here is one factor," he said. "I want to work to keep the Alaska economy safe. But a lot depends on what happens with the fiscal plan.

"But the long-range fiscal plan is an issue. They've been working on it for a long time. We're so close to the train running off the track, we can't wait to start dealing with it. It's going to take little bites, like bringing more private sector enterprise to the state."

He said his campaign will not change from his two previous elections.

"I'm going to be doing a lot of the same things I did before," Smalley said. "Things that are affordable, like door-to-door campaigning. I got to hear what a lot of people had to say. And I'm a good listener."

And what of Smalley's competition?

Because he is gunning to represent a new district, he will have no incumbents to upstage, as Chenault did in 2000. According to the state Division of Elections, only Smalley and current District 8 Rep. Ken Lancaster, R-Soldotna, have filed bids for the new district.

Chenault was not identified as having submitted his name for the coming election, but his office indicated he would run in District 34, the rural Kenai district, which includes the area surrounding the Kenai-Soldotna district and ranges from as far south as Nikolaevsk, eastward to just west of Cooper Landing and north from Nikiski to the boundary between the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and the Chugach National Forest.

Kenai Mayor John Williams said he anticipates an exciting race between Smalley and Lancaster.

"I'll be watching the election very closely," he said. "Both candidates are very popular in their respective areas. It brings us to the question of 'who do we elect?' We have two extremely qualified individuals for the position."

Smalley said after the legislative session is over he expects more names to enter into the election fray for his district. However, he said, he will focus more on winning the seat and less on beating opponents.

"I don't ever campaign against a candidate," he said. "I campaign for the seat."

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