Who's voting?

Young voters show little interest in coming election

Posted: Sunday, October 02, 2005

As Jake Dempster, 21, flipped through a guitar magazine at the Kenai Safeway Store on Friday, finding a job — any job really — was on his mind. He was not too concerned about Tuesday's local elections.

A sampling of comments from the central Kenai Peninsula's younger residents around town Friday showed that at least some of them were concerned about issues other than the coming election. Others were just plain undecided on where they stand.

Tuesday's election will give Kenai Peninsula voters the chance to pick a new borough mayor and decide some issues on ballot propositions. For certain parts of the borough, voters also will pick members of the assembly, school board, service area boards, city councils and a local mayor.

Dempster was not so sure it would get him a job.

Dawn Edwards-Smith, 31, said she cares about the election, but has not paid too much attention to it.

She is still undecided on who she will vote for.

Brandon Girves, 20, said he was not following the election.

Girves is an employee at Kaladi Brothers Coffee Company in Soldotna.

When asked if any of the candidates talked about issues important to him, he replied: "I have no idea."

"I can't wait till it's all over so we can get back to the paper," he said paging through Friday's Peninsula Clarion plastered with election coverage.

Safeway employee Jeremy Herr, 36, said he is still deciding who he will pick for the mayor's seat. But whoever it is, he hopes they can do borough projects right the first time to save taxpayers money.

For example, Herr said the Kenai Spur Highway needs to be repaved again — much sooner than would be needed if the job was done right the first time.

Dempster, the Safeway patron, had just moved to the area two days earlier and did not know the candidates' names.

There was one thing he was painfully aware of, though.

"The job search is a little bit hard," he said.

Dempster was concerned about opportunity. He grew up in Sterling and moved last year to Springfield, Mo., looking for a career start in life. He said he isn't so sure he can find that on the Kenai Peninsula — unless he goes to work on the North Slope.

He said Springfield was not the best place for him and his wife, so they packed the car and headed north.

While Dempster said he really just needs a job right now — any job — he hopes to be a small business owner in a few years.

Local government maybe able to help, he said.

Dempster said he knows starting a business or two will not be easy. When he sets out to open a restaurant and a custom carpentry business, he said he hopes there will not be too many hurdles — or taxes.

"It would be nice if that was made a little easier," he said.

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