Assembly to have new look

Posted: Wednesday, October 04, 2000

There will be two new faces on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly following Tuesday's low-key election.

With five of seven districts reporting in assembly District 1, Kenai South, incumbent Bill Popp, who ran unopposed, had 410 votes or nearly 89 percent of the total. Write-ins totaled 51 votes or 11 percent.

In assembly District 6, Seward, marine surveyor Ron Long was leading veterinarian Matt Hall in the race to replace incumbent Patrick O'Brien, who declined to run for re-election. In early results, Long had 377 votes or 56 percent, while Hall had 290 votes or 43 percent. There were four write-ins.

Hall said he ran only to oppose certain other potential candidates, but they never filed for the seat. He endorsed Long early in the campaign.

"I think Seward and District 6 are the big winners," he said. "I think Ron is going to do a great job."

Long said his major goal is to broaden the borough's economic base and pursue responsible planned growth.

In assembly District 9, Diamond Ridge-Seldovia, Milli Martin, a retired public relations worker and homemaker, led school teacher Brentley Keene and Steve Chmielowiec, retired from the U.S. Navy, in the race to replace incumbent Drew Scalzi. Scalzi declined to seek re-election and is running for a seat in the Legislature. With Seldovia precinct results still missing, Martin had 391 votes or 61 percent, Keene 142 votes or 22 percent, and Chmielowiec 102 votes, almost 16 percent. There were six write-ins.

The borough still must tally absentee and questioned ballots.

Martin, a former school board member who now sits on the Kachemak Bay Advisory Planning Commission, could not be reached. She helped put the proposed Greater Kachemak Bay Volunteer Fire and Emergency Service Area on Tuesday's ballot. During the campaign, she cited balancing development against the rural nature of residential areas as an important issue. She expressed interest in reviewing the borough's local-option zoning ordinance and possibly the ordinance governing development of gravel pits.

Keene said name recognition was important in the race, and Martin ran a high-profile campaign.

Popp, the current assembly president, said the new assembly will face some big issues.

It must work with the Legislature to find a long-term solution to school funding, he said, since Senate Bill 36, which the Legislature passed two years ago, was only an interim solution. He said residents are concerned not only that state contributions to schools fail to keep up with rising costs, but also about the effects on sports and other activities and the higher fees students must pay to participate.

The fate of borough-owned land will be another big issue.

"We have an administration that definitely has ideas about getting a bunch of (borough) land up for sale," Popp said.

The assembly recently approved Mayor Dale Bagley's proposal to subdivide remote land near Point Possession for eventual sale, then, on reconsideration, reversed its decision.

Roads are always an issue, he said, and taxes could become one if voters in November pass the 10-mill cap on municipal property taxes. The borough's general and service area taxes add up to more than 10 mills in several areas.

Popp said the redrawing of election districts after the 2000 census will be another big issue. The assembly could consider adding to or subtracting from the nine assembly seats that now represent the borough, he said.

It also could adjust the boundaries of assembly districts proposed by the borough clerk as long as the changes pass muster with the federal overseers.

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