Voters returned incumbents Pete Sprague of Soldotna and Paul Fischer of Kasilof to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly but picked challenger Gary Superman for the seat representing Nikiski and Tyonek.
In preliminary District 3 results Tuesday night, Superman had 673 votes, or 59 percent of the total. Incumbent Mark Powell got 456 votes, or 40 percent. There were seven write-ins, roughly 1 percent of the total.
In preliminary District 4 results, incumbent Sprague received 698 votes, or 56 percent, while challenger Mike Tauriainen received 492, or 40 percent. There were 46 write-ins, roughly 4 percent of the total.
In preliminary District 7 results, incumbent Fischer received 869 votes, roughly 65 percent of the total. Challenger Mark Osterman received 226 votes, just under 17 percent, while Dan Skipworth received 233 votes, just over 17 percent. There were 11 write-ins, roughly 1 percent of the total.
Voter turnout was 54 percent in District 3, 24 percent in District 4, and 37 percent in District 7.
Superman said the proposal to build a private prison north of Kenai was the overriding issue in the District 3 race.
"It's pretty obvious. It's going down by 73 percent. Out north, it was even worse than that," he said.
Superman opposed the prison proposal. Powell, appointed last May to fill the seat vacated by Jack Brown, said during the campaign that he favored the public's right to vote on the prison proposal and believed the team of Cornell, VECO-Neeser and Kenai Natives Association was the right one to build it if voters approved.
Superman said he hopes other issues figured, too.
"I brought up certain land-use issues we need to deal with out north, and infrastructure -- lobbying for capital improvements out north. But the prison was the overriding thing," he said.
He said he is grateful for all the people in Nikiski who turned out to support him.
Sprague, who kept the seat representing Soldotna, said the prison issue figured there, too. He said he opposed the private prison, while challenger Tauriainen supported it.
Sprague spent a lot of time knocking on doors and made as many public appearances as he could.
"I just kept working on what I felt were the key issues over the last three years -- fiscal restraint and responsible development, spending wisely and well, and support for education," he said.
He said Tauriainen campaigned for putting more borough land in private hands.
"I supported a lot more than that. I wanted to get land in private hands, but also to develop responsibly and also get to work on revising the (borough) comprehensive plan. The population has grown 25 percent since the last time it was revisited, and it's time to start working on it again," Sprague said.
Fischer, who kept the seat representing the area from Anchor Point to Kasilof, said he supported putting the prison proposal to a vote of the people. Some prison opponents supported him anyway, because they knew he was not a one-issue candidate, he said. Others knew he would not let the prison go forward if it did not make sense.
"I was saying we really don't know enough. People here knew that if the vote was yes and it didn't pencil out, I wouldn't have let it go further," he said.
The District 7 campaign was low-key, said Fischer, who estimated that he spent less than $1,000. He said he wanted to prove that it is possible to win an assembly seat without spending much money, because he wants more people to run.
He said he couldn't really take credit for his victory.
"It's people that know me and believe in what I do on the assembly and went out and got people to vote," he said.
He said he did not think the prison was the only issue in District 7. There is a concern that the borough has too large a surplus, and that could be addressed either by cutting taxes or spending, he said.
"The fear is that the borough will spend it. They don't want to see that. That's one reason the proposition on expanding the borough building went down. Two and a half million dollars would have come out of the borough surplus account," he said.
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