Voter files complaint challenging Kohring's residency

Posted: Thursday, June 06, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- Rep. Vic Kohring, who owns houses in both Alaska and Oregon and also rents living space from his parents, will again have to answer questions about where he's living these days.

Kohring, a conservative Republican who moved from his new home near Wasilla to avoid a primary fight with a fellow GOP incumbent, is the subject of a complaint filed with the state Division of Elections.

Gilbert Lucero, a Democrat from Palmer, alleges Kohring does not live in House District 14 where the Republican is seeking re-election.

The district spans from Wasilla to Bald Mountain Ridge and was created this year by the Alaska Redistricting Board.

Lucero is a registered Democrat who serves on the Alaska Democratic Party's state central committee. He filed the complaint June 3 with the state agency.

''I want somebody who represents me and is going to come back to the (Matanuska) valley and live by the laws he makes,'' Lucero said.

In the complaint, Lucero cites comments Kohring made about his home in Portland, Ore. and his past living arrangements as proof that the lawmaker is too mobile to be a Wasilla resident.

Kohring's wife, Tatiana, stays at the Portland home while the Legislature is in session.

Questions have been raised in the past about Kohring's residency when the Republican lawmaker listed for a time his address as a motor home on a vacant lot near Wasilla.

Most recently Kohring faced media scrutiny for missing 10 days of this year's legislative session while staying at his Portland home.

Kohring called the latest allegations ''bogus'' and said Lucero was motivated by partisan politics to file the complaint.

''It's clear to me it's driven by his opposition to me as a conservative Republican legislator,'' Kohring said. ''This guy offers no proof whatsoever.''

Currently, Kohring is renting a room with his parents at their Flag Circle home in an effort to stay in House District 14.

Kohring began renting from his parents in May 2001 after it became apparent that he would have to run against Rep. Beverly Masek, R-Willow, to retain his seat.

A new legislative map recently upheld by the state Supreme Court paired several Republican incumbents against each other including Kohring and Masek.

''I was reapportioned out of my own home,'' Kohring said. ''I would have moved to London, England, if that's what it took to prevent (Democrat Gov. Tony Knowles) and his reapportionment gang from attempting to hurt me and other Republicans.''

Knowles appointed two redistricting board members and Republican legislative leaders appointed one each. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Dana Fabe, herself a Knowles appointee, appointed the fifth member.

Kohring is a four-term incumbent who sometimes works as a construction worker. He said his current living arrangements are ''a stretch, financially.''

His vacant home in Wasilla has been for sale for several months and he is considering opening his Portland home to renters during the time it is vacant, Kohring said.

Kohring frequently slept in his legislative office in the capital during the five-month session of the Legislature rather than rent an apartment.

For a time, Kohring lived in a motor home on an undeveloped one-acre lot in his former House district. The motor home had no running water, and it was fed with electricity from a neighbor's property.

Kohring built his current vacant home on that property in 2000 and had planned to live there before he was married in 2001, he said.

The incumbent lawmaker faces a challenge from Republican Steven D. Menard in the Aug. 27 primary. Marci Schmidt is seeking the nomination of the Alaskan Independence Party in the Nov. 5 general election.

Janet Kowalski, director of the state Division of Elections, said she could not comment on the complaint until the investigation is concluded.

The Division of Elections is required to conclude an investigation within 30 days of a complaint being filed, Kowalski said.

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