4 run for District 35 seats

Posted: Friday, August 20, 2004

All the candidates in the race for the House District 35 seat covering the lower Kenai Peninsula have a walk in the park in Tuesday's primary.

None of the four will face another. Nevertheless, the issues are likely to provide some lively debate between the primary and the general election on Nov. 2.

Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, is a commercial fisher. He drew no party challenge. He is running for his second term, having defeated then incumbent Drew Scalzi in the 2002 primary. Seaton faced no opposition in November 2002.

Democrat Deb Germano of Homer, a longtime member of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District's Board of Education and a communications worker, also faces no challenger in the primary.

Ed Martin Jr. of Cooper Landing is running as the only Alaskan Independence Party candidate. Martin declined a telephone interview and will not appear in the coverage following these opening paragraphs.

Meanwhile, Mike Heimbuch, of Homer, whose name will not appear on any primary ballot, will run as an independent candidate on Nov. 2.

Seaton and Germano were in agreement that more funding is needed for schools. After the primary, they are likely to debate how that should occur. Seaton said the recent study on the cost differential between urban and rural schools would likely be the focus of education funding in the next session.

Heimbuch said what's critical is developing an understanding of the education bureaucracy and answering some difficult questions, including addressing whether the same educational opportunities should be available no matter how remote a location may be.

Two years from now, the lower peninsula's economy should be doing well, Seaton said, pointing to advances in the mariculture industry, improvements in seafood marketing, tourism and the potential represented by the Pebble Mine project.

Germano pointed out that two years is a short time for much change to occur, but that she hopes to see increased funding for schools and the return of educational programs that cuts have ended. She hopes there can be progress toward a four-year college on the lower peninsula.

Heimbuch said whoever is elected, it shouldn't be about "creating momentum for change," but about creating stability so that businesses can start and prosper.

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