Mayoral hopefuls keep quiet about picks for assistants

Posted: Thursday, October 20, 2005

With only days remaining before the Oct. 25 runoff election for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor, candidates John Torgerson and John Williams are busy with last-minute campaigning.

But the two are remaining mum about who's being considered as possible right-hand assistants, should they win the election.

Neither was willing to play that card at this time.

Torgerson said Tuesday he had made no decision regarding an assistant and does not expect to until the end of a transition period that he expects would continue into January.

Asked where a Torgerson administration would put its focus during that transition period, the candidate said every department would be scrutinized for possible savings. If cuts are necessary, they're not likely to be easy, he said.

"These are simple questions with complex answers," Torgerson said. "Every dollar has a constituency attached."

Torgerson said he had no targets, per se, but all spending would have to be examined. He has suggested he would consider closing the municipal landfill two days a week in an effort to contain borough spending.

Williams also declined to name a second, saying no promises had been made. Work continues putting together a transition team, he said.

"We haven't yet firmed up who our transition team will be," he said, adding he is looking for people "really willing to get in there and do things."

Williams said he actually plans two teams.

"One will be my inner team, my very close confidants on how to shape the future of this borough. The second will be a public finance team that will go through the entire budget line by line and focus on where we can do better, where we can cut and how to reform and reshape the budget," he said. "That will be very open and public."

Considering the tough shape the borough is in, he added, a transition could take anywhere from 30 to 90 days.

The six-way race for mayor gave voters at the Oct. 4 regular election a fairly broad range of opinion from which to choose. The Clarion asked the four mayoral candidates who are not in Tuesday's runoff if they supporting a particular candidate.

Ray VinZant, who came in last in the Oct. 4 election, said he offered his help to Williams the night of the general election.

"I would hand out brochures in the grocery store, if he wants. He is a good candidate. He has a lot of experience running businesses on the Kenai Peninsula. Williams is the highest qualified person," VinZant said.

Assembly President Gary Superman, who finished third in the race, said recently that he would not campaign for either of the runoff candidates. He said he had a personal preference, but declined to make it public.

Superman has retained his seat on the Kenai Peninsula borough assembly, and will have to work with whoever wins.

Ed Oberts, currently assistant to Mayor Dale Bagley, finished fifth in the regular election Oct. 4. He also said he was not publicly campaigning on behalf of either of the candidates. He added that he would be surprised if Torgerson or Williams would be willing to reveal his short list of potential assistants.

"If I were them, I wouldn't," he joked.

Fred Sturman, who finished fourth in the regular election, could not be reached for comment.

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