Opposition lacking, but continuity remains

Two incumbents vie for same seats on Soldotna City Council ballot

Posted: Monday, September 25, 2000

There's something to be said for continuity. There are no surprises when the players remain the same, and everybody has a working relationship with each other.

That's the case on the Soldotna City Council, where both incumbents seeking re-election are running unopposed.

"We have a very good working council. They are very involved," said Soldotna Mayor Ken Lancaster. "Our two newest folks are really doing well."

One of those two newest folks is David Carey, a government teacher at Skyview High School, who won election a year ago to fill out the unexpired term of Pete Sprague. Sprague resigned from council a few months after being elected to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly.

Carey's election was close. He trailed by one vote on election night, but won by 25 after absentee ballots were counted.

He said while it feels good to run unopposed, he doesn't think it's healthy for the system.

Carey is seeking a full, three-year term.

On the other end of the tenure scale is Jim Stogsdill, a retired Alaska State Trooper who has served on the council since 1992.

He said he'd rather see more people involved in elections as well.

"I don't think running unopposed is a good thing," Stogsdill said. "I guess I'd rather see a lot of people interested."

Lancaster said he always likes to see competition in elections, despite having run unopposed himself in the past.

"It's good if you're the person running. But it's kind of disappointing not seeing more people who want to step up," he said. "The cities always have a problem filling commission and committee seats."

If Lancaster is elected to the state House in November, Stogsdill, the vice mayor, will become the acting mayor until a special election is called, unless something unforeseen happens.

"As the city clerk likes to remind me, we once had a mayor who was defeated by a write-in candidate," Lancaster said. "So you never know."

So far, no one has announced a write-in campaign against either Stogsdill or Carey.

Lancaster said some of the issues facing the city council of Soldotna in the coming year include capitol projects and the specter of balancing the budget in the face of the tax cap initiative that will appear on the November ballot.

"The first thing (the council) is going to see is the results of the planning for the Centennial Park expansion," Lancaster said. "There are new and exciting things, such as the direction the sports center complex will take and not only to draw people here, but to enhance quality of life issues."

Lancaster said passing a balanced budget is the most important thing the city council does each year, and despite having a property tax well below the proposed 10 mill cap, the city could feel the effects nonetheless.

There is speculation that if the property tax cap is approved, more state money will be directed to Anchorage, at the expense of smaller communities such as Soldotna.

The municipal election is Oct. 3.

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