Election may net vacant seats

Posted: Friday, September 09, 2005

With two Kenai Peninsula Borough school board members, Deb Germano of Homer and Margaret Gilman of Kenai, seeking election to the borough assembly, and three other board seats up for grabs, the nine-member school board could take on a dramatically different profile after the Oct. 4 municipal election.

Board member Debbie Holle Brown of Kasilof, whose district includes Ninilchik, is being challenged by Wayne Wong of Clam Gulch. Board member Debra Mullins of Kenai is running against Victoria Pate of Nikiski. Nels Anderson of Soldotna is running unopposed.

“It could be a really big change for us,” said board president Sammy Crawford of Kenai.

Losing Germano and Gilman to the assembly has its advantages and disadvantages, she said.

“It would be a loss for the school board for sure because of their experience, but it also would be really positive because of their possible work on the assembly, pushing for full funding (of the school district) which is always a big concern.”

The decision to run for the borough assembly was a matter of timing, Germano said.

“The only reason I’m running is because the seat opened and I decided to file, knowing that if I should get elected the board will appoint someone to my seat for the rest of the year,” Germano said. “If you’re going to do it, you have to do it.”

Terms on the borough assembly and school board are purposely staggered so that area representation overlaps, which also figured into Gilman’s decision to seek a seat on the assembly before her term on the school board expired.

“The only (other) way to do it would have been to get off the school board and then wait until the assembly seat opened again,” she said. “One reason I’m running for the assembly is that I’m concerned there’s a possibility the borough may not choose to fully fund the school district. The borough has fully funded it for the last 15 years, if not more, I think, and that’s

always been a point of pride when the school board members go to Juneau.”

Germano and Gilman were each elected to three-year terms on the board in 2003. If either candidate is successful in her bid for the assembly, the school board has 30 days to fill the resulting vacancy with an appointee until the 2006 election gives voters the opportunity to choose a replacement for the remainder of each term.

“That’s how I got my seat on the board,” Crawford said. “A vacancy was created and I applied with nine candidates. We had to fill out something written and then there was a public interview. The board met, chose one and I was fortunate to be chosen.”

In 1998, Crawford was appointed to the board. Later that year, she was elected to fill the seat to which she was appointed, and has been re-elected since then.

School board seats not impacted by the Oct. 4 election are those held by Sandra Wassilie of Seward, Marty Anderson of Sterling, Sunni Hilts of Seldovia and Crawford.

The borough assembly faces a situation similar to that possibly created by Germano and Gilman’s candidacy for assembly. Gary Superman of Nikiski is the current borough assembly president and is running for borough mayor. He was elected in 2004 and has two years left to serve.

According to the borough clerk’s office, filling election-created vacancies begins once election results are certified, which would be as soon as Oct. 11, or Nov. 1 if close results require a runoff election. The public is advised of vacancies and interested members of the public officially file their interest with the clerk’s office. The assembly interviews candidates

and makes a selection with a majority vote. The appointment would be until the 2006 election, at which time voters would select an assembly member to complete the remaining year of the term.

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