After hours of reviewing and counting absentee ballots Tuesday, the City of Kenai's Canvassing Board confirmed the results of last week's regular election. Council hopefuls Terry Bookey and Brian Gabriel Sr. have won the two seats on Kenai City Council.
"I'm pretty excited, really excited actually," Gabriel said Tuesday. "It hasn't sunk in yet because I was a little nervous about how that might go."
Gabriel, who was leading incumbent Hal Smalley by 38 votes on election night, maintained his lead over the current Kenai Peninsula Assembly member with a total of 99 absentee votes to Smalley's 83. Gabriel received 685 votes. Smalley tallied 631.
Bookey, who was the leading candidate after election night, received an additional 81 absentee votes for a total of 724.
Smalley did not seem dismayed by the results.
"What's that old saying? They are what they are," he said.
He said he thinks that Gabriel will do a fine job. And Gabriel was quick to add his gratitude for Smalley.
"I do appreciate Hal's work on the council and what he's done. As a resident of Kenai, I respect the work and time he's put into the council," Gabriel said.
Smalley's campaign for re-election created a controversy within the borough because of an ordinance passed by the assembly earlier this year prohibiting dual service from any member of the elected body.
In an earlier interview, borough attorney Colette Thompson said that if Smalley was re-elected to Kenai City Council and sworn in as a councilman, he would be forfeiting his seat on the assembly, in accordance with the borough ordinance.
This opinion was confirmed by a third party law office, Anchorage's Birch Horton Bittner and Cherot, after their borough-requested review of the ordinance was completed last week.
According to Thomas Klinkner of Birch Horton Bittner & Cherot, the borough's ordinance conflicts with state statute on qualifications. But under common-law rule against holding incompatible offices, like those of assembly and council, serving on both bodies within a borough is prohibited.
"Under the common-law rule, by taking office as a city council member, an Assembly member automatically would vacate the office of Assembly member," the decision states.
Incumbent Barry Eldridge received a total of 387 votes with all precincts reporting.
The election results will be certified at the Oct. 20 city council meeting and the new council members Bookey and Gabriel will be officially sworn in.
Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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