Candidates vie for local positions

Posted: Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Oct. 5 Kenai Peninsula Borough election is shaping up to be a heated one with several last-minute candidates filing for seats in the final days.

The filing period for candidates in the borough closed Monday, as have filing periods in borough cities. And while some races will be no trouble for lone candidates, a handful of leadership positions have drawn fierce competition.

Seven candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the borough assembly, meaning there will be no cake-walk races in this year's election. Incumbent Gary Superman will face James Price in the contest for a seat representing District 3 Nikiski. Current assembly member Paul A. Fischer faces Mark D. Osterman, an attorney who previously has run for the assembly, in District 7 Central. Meanwhile, in District 4 Soldotna, assembly President Pete Sprague will try to retain his seat against two opponents: Michael Swan and Fred Sturman.

On the other hand, the race for seats on the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District's Board of Education is comparatively tame. Only one of the three seats open this year has a challenged race. In Seat 1 Kalifornsky, longtime school board member Lorraine "Sammy" Crawford faces Gene Dyson, a frequent candidate for the board. Incumbents Sandra Wassilie, Seat 6 East Peninsula, and Edith-Helen "Sunni" Hilts, Seat 9 South Peninsula, are unopposed in the races to retain seats they both were elected to last year.

Area city elections also offer a mixed bag this fall.

In Soldotna, where the filing deadline closed Friday, incumbent Jane Stein is the sole candidate registered to run for city council Seat D, while Ed Sleater has filed to run for Seat E, which is being vacated by Audrey Porter.

In Kenai, however, two council seats and the mayor's post are open for election and have drawn several candidates. Current council members Jim Bookey and Pat Porter have filed to fill the seat vacated by retiring Mayor John Williams. That leaves Bookey's council seat, as well as one held by Joe Moore, open. Moore, plus newcomers Clifford Massie and Michael F. Boyle, will contend to fill the two openings.

In Homer, four candidates will face off to replace Mayor Jack Cushing. Current city council members John Fenske and Dennis Novak face James Hornaday and Julie Cesarini for the post. Meanwhile, council incumbent Doug Stark faces opposition from Bill Smith and Mary E. Wythe for a three-year council term, and Lane Chesley and Val McLay are vying for a two-year term vacated by Mike Yourkowski, who is running for the Alaska Senate.

Two candidates in Seward current Vice Mayor Vanta Shafer and Tim McDonald are facing off to fill that city's mayor position, vacated a year early by David Brossow. Meanwhile, three two-year council seats are up for grabs, with seven candidates vying for the slots: Stu Clark, Walter Christolear, incumbent Willard Dunham, David Hettick, incumbent Margaret Branson, Steve Schafer and Dorene Lorenz.

Back at the borough level, there are dozens of races heating up for positions on service area boards. (See related story, page A-1.)

Among the most contentious is a face-off amongst five Nikiski residents trying to get on the board of directors for the North Peninsula Recreation Service Area. Efforts to build a community center in Nikiski have drawn fire from some North Road residents, and that topic is expected to be a key one in the election.

In Seat A, incumbent Peter F. Mysing will try to defend his position against David Machado and Sonia Young. In Seat B, vice chair P. Paul Lorenzo faces Victoria E. Pate.

Another board that has drawn several candidates is a potential new one overseeing the Nikiski Law Enforcement Service Area. The formation of that service area will go before voters in one of several borough propositions on the fall ballot, and if the measure passes, a board will be formed to manage the area.

The board would have five seats, and plenty of candidates have turned out to vie for those positions. James Hall is running unopposed for Seat A, while James E. Mellott is unopposed for Seat D and Stephen Tyler is the sole candidate for Seat E. However, Phil Nash, Phil Blythe and Stanley Gerhauser all are running for Seat B, and four candidates Michael A. Peek, Steven K. Meyer, Mark A. Johnson and Sonia Young are dueling for Seat C.

In addition to the formation of a Nikiski Law Enforcement Service Area, borough voters also will have a say on five other propositions in the election. Residents will vote on measures to increase the residential real property tax exemption; clarify service area powers; reduce the cost of capital improvement projects requiring voter approval; expand the Central Emergency Service Area to Funny River; and expand the Central Emergency Service Area to the Kasilof-Cohoe-Clam Gulch area.

The borough election will be Oct. 5. Voters must be registered by Sept. 5.

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