Kenai Peninsula Borough voters returned Mayor Dale Bagley to office for another three-year term Tuesday, handing him a decisive victory over his opponent, current Alaska House of Representatives member Ken Lancaster.
Meanwhile, nine-year member and current assembly president Tim Navarre was turned out of office by assembly member Betty Glick in the race for assembly District 2 (Kenai), a three-year term.
The assembly terms were either one-, two- or three-year terms to allow for a rotation of offices in future elections.
Bagley declined comment on his successful run for re-election Tuesday. Miffed that the Peninsula Clarion had endorsed Lancaster, he said only, "Since the Clarion endorsed Lancaster, I guess you can get your comments from him," before hanging up.
Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dale Bagley
Roughly 20 percent of the eligible voters decided the race for mayor. Lancaster declined to read anything deeper into the election results than that the tally showed too few people participated.
"It's disappointing people don't get out and vote," he said. "It's one privilege we have left."
There were four other contested races for assembly seats.
John C. Davis of Kenai easily topped Ronald J. Johnson of Kenai in the race for assembly District 1, the Kalifornsky district, a one-year term. With three of five precincts counted, Davis led Johnson 663 to 310 votes.
"Personally, I was really tickled about it," Davis said. "Now we'll be getting away from that 5-4 vote against anything Dale (Bagley) did."
Davis said he doesn't expect any radical change in the assembly.
In assembly District 5 (Sterling), incumbent Grace E. Merkes beat challenger Marty Anderson handily for a three-year term. With three of five precincts reporting, Merkes had 644 votes to Anderson's 429.
In District 7 (Central), incumbent Paul Fischer of Tustumena successfully withstood challenges from two opponents and won re-election to a two-year term. With four of six precincts in, Fischer had 568 votes, while Paul Zimmerman of Kasilof had garnered 395 and Anchor Point resident Doug Ruzicka had gotten 60.
"I feel pretty good," Fischer said Tuesday night, adding he believed voters were generally satisfied with the way the borough is being run and said as much at the polls.
Down on the lower peninsula, incumbent Milli Martin defeated Faith Schade in the race for the South Peninsula district, assembly District 9. With four of seven precincts reporting, Martin led Schade 532 to 215.
"I'm quite happy and delighted," she said. "It tells me people support what I'm doing and what I plan on doing."
Commenting on other races, Martin said it was apparent Bagley has the support of the people and she looked forward to working with him for another three years. Martin will have to be re-elected again next year to make that happen. The District 9 race was for a one-year term.
In uncontested races, incumbent assembly member Pete Sprague, of Soldotna, easily won re-election to a two-year term from District 4, representing Soldotna, while assembly member Chris Moss, of Homer, took District 8, the Homer district, a three-year term.
It was redistricting that set up the Navarre-Glick contest.
Glick was appointed in June to fill a seat left vacant by Bill Popp, who resigned and took a job with the borough. Popp and Navarre had not been in the same district, but the new district boundaries put Glick and Navarre, both Kenai residents, into the new assembly District 2. With all but absentee and questioned ballots to be counted Tuesday, Glick led Navarre by more than 100 votes, 496 to 390.
"Well, ready or not, I guess I would say here I come," an elated Glick said Tuesday.
Glick has plenty of experience from which to draw. She spent 14 years on the assembly between 1982 and 1996, and then took six years out of politics until being appointed in June. She said she hasn't like what she's been seeing.
"I've been there 2 1/2 months and what I saw transpiring upset me," she said.
The assembly, she added, has lost touch with the limits of its duties in a second-class borough and she said she hopes that can be turned around.
"The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly needs to get back to passing legislation and let the mayor, whoever that might be, do his job as administrator," Glick said. "I was distressed at what I saw as a usurpation of power."
Glick also said she will cast a skeptical eye on spending for projects if those projects don't fit the second-class borough mold. She pointed to the CARTS (Central Area Rural Transportation System) program as a case in point.
"I object to the borough funding that with questionable authority," she said.
Glick acknowledged being surprised by her victory, but at the same time, pleased at the level of support voters showed her.
Navarre said he was disappointed but doesn't regret anything he has done while in office. He said voters essentially went for the status quo and, because both he and Glick ran low-key campaigns, doesn't think politics played much of a roll.
He did say the fact that he had been a candidate for mayor and then dropped out to make way for Lancaster may have been a factor because he had essentially taken sides in the mayor's race.
"I can live with it," he said. "Sure, I'm disappointed, but in a way I'm relieved. I've got plenty of things to do. I will stay involved in my community."
Navarre spent nine years on the assembly, the last two as its president. In that time, he has cultivated contacts with the Alaska delegation in Washington, D.C., and he said he hopes the assembly will keep that avenue of communication alive.
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