The two races for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District board ended quite differently.
Al Poindexter of Anchor Point narrowly defeated incumbent Susan F. Larned of Soldotna for seat D, while an overwhelming number of voters chose Joe Arness of Kenai over Gene Dyson of Soldotna for seat E. Mari-Anne Gross chose not to seek re-election.
Arness modestly called the number of voters ushering him back into office a "comfortable margin." He received 1,729 more votes than Dyson. Voters cast 4,779 votes in the race for seat E, with 3,235 for Arness and 1,506 for Dyson.
Arness attributed some of his support to name recognition.
"I've been doing this for so long that my name is associated with it," Arness said.
He also called the victory an expression of voters' confidence in him.
"For all the times that I've done this, I've won some and I've lost some, and it's a humbling experience," Arness said. "I truly appreciate the confidence this reflects."
Arness said his first task will be to familiarize himself with what has happened with the school board over the last year. He served on the board for 10 years until last year, when he ran unsuccessfully for borough mayor.
"I'm not here to slay any dragons," he said, adding he has no immediate agenda but hopes to work on the state exit exams and their role in schools.
Dyson wished Arness "a lot of luck" and said he was disappointed with low voter turnout, which was a mere 15.4 percent.
"That's terrible," he said.
Dyson remains interested in education and said he will probably run next year.
"I'm an old-timer," Dyson said. "I never give up."
The race for seat D was close. Poindexter received 2,116 votes, while Larned received 2,062. Faron E. Owen received 586 votes.
Voter turnout may have made the difference in this race. Southern peninsula voters turned out in greater numbers than their central peninsula counterparts. The Fritz Creek precinct, outside Homer, reported a 26 percent turnout, while the Soldotna precinct reported only 13 percent. The three reporting Kenai precincts had voter turnouts ranging between 13 and 16 percent. This higher turnout in Poindex-ter's neighborhood may have been his ticket to office.
"I knew it would be close," an elated Poindexter said. "I'm excited."
Poindexter said he thought voters responded to his vocational education platform. He said his first move in office will be to learn about the priorities of the current board members. He said he then hopes to establish a vocational education task force.
Poindexter called the passage of proposition 1 "outstanding."
"It's obvious folks on the peninsula are real proud of their schools and want to make sure they stay top of the line," he said.
Poindexter said he also hopes to create a scope and sequences program and would like to maintain a low pupil-to-teacher ratio.
Larned congratulated Poindex-ter and said he "will have a lot of work cut out for him ... with the budget ... and I wish him well."
She said she will continue to be involved with education in her preschool in Soldotna. She said she is unsure whether she will run for a school board seat in the future.
"I don't know," she said. "Perhaps. I certainly enjoyed my time on the school board."
Owen also congratulated Poindexter.
"It's good to see the people have chosen someone new with Mr. Poindexter," Owen said.
Owen said he still wants to be involved with education on the peninsula and would like to work with the school board at the grass-roots level if it takes a position on the foundation funding formula for schools.
He also said he may run for school board again.
"It's possible," he said. "I figure it's time we got some new faces. There's room for change."
Results for absentee ballots and questioned ballots are not included in the results above.
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