Voters in Kenai and Soldotna had a difference of opinion whether to vote for change in their city councils or go with the status quo.
In the Kenai City Council race, the vote was for business as is. The incumbents, Linda Swarner and Duane Bannock, were re-elected over the challengers, Dustin Aaronson, Barry Eldridge and John "Ozzie" Osborne.
In the Soldotna race, challenger M. Scott McLane unseated incumbent Joyce Cox for Seat F.
Two three-year seats were up for grabs in the Kenai election; all candidates competed against each other, with the top two vote-getters being awarded the seats. Swarner came out the leader in the polls.
"I was thrilled and excited," she said. "Every election is a surprise. ... Being the top vote-getter I take as a sign that the constituents like what I do for the city and feel I reflect their ideas. And I thank them for their continued support."
Swarner said she went door-to-door in Kenai neighborhoods during her campaign to get a better understanding of what citizens' concerns were. She is looking forward to working with the council as a team to deal with issues facing the city, like its revenue shortage and how to handle unfunded mandates, she said.
Bannock, who has been a council member for the past nine years, was likewise excited about being re-elected.
"There were quality candidates running against me, and I didn't take anything for granted," he said. "It wasn't a lock in any stretch of the imagination. I'm very fortunate to be re-elected."
Bannock took an outspoken stance against Proposition No. 4, the ballot initiative to repeal the so-called grocery tax, and thought his success would be tied to the outcome of that issue, he said.
"I'd like to think people are satisfied with the job I've done and the message I've tried to promote for the last nine years," he said.
Out of the challengers, Osborne received the most votes, followed by Eldridge and Aaronson, but none were able to unseat the incumbents.
"It looks like the incumbents are back in again for another term," Eldridge said. "In Kenai, it's not too often you turn out incumbents doing a reasonable job as these folks have done."
Osborne also commented that it is difficult to beat Kenai council incumbents. Both Osborne and Eldridge have run for council seats in previous elections.
"Apparently everybody in the city is satisfied with what they have, but there's always next year," Osborne said.
For Aaronson, this was a first attempt at a city council election.
"I am happy to participate in the process. Really, everyone's a winner in a democracy," he said. "As long as the people of Kenai are getting what they want and deserve. If (the city) is going to spend a bunch of money on a small group of people, I think if everyone is satisfied, that's the most important thing."
Osborne and Eldridge said they were disappointed in voter turnout numbers. All three challengers said they would probably run again in future elections.
In the Soldotna City Council race, Cox said she also had hoped for a better voter turnout in Soldotna and across the borough. She also was pleased Proposition 4 did not pass.
Although disappointed in not being re-elected, Cox said she believes firmly in the city of Soldotna and will continue to keep her eye on the council.
"All of a sudden I realize I will have have a little extra time," she said. "... I think Scott will do a good job. I wish him well.
"Congratulations to all the winners and congratulations to all who ran because it does take some effort, and I know that they are committed to being concerned citizens," Cox said.
McLane was not available for comment late Tuesday night.
Soldotna Mayor Dave Carey and council member Lisa Parker, both running unopposed, were re-elected to their positions.
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