House District 7 voters turned a page of history Tuesday, naming Republican Drew Scalzi of Homer to suceed long-time legislator Republican Gail Phillips, who chose not to seek re-election.
By 10:30 p.m., 10 of the district's 13 precincts showed Scalzi with 4,191votes or 64.79 percent of the vote. Democrat Amy Bollenbach had 2,235 votes, or 34.55 percent of the vote. Write-ins accounted for .66 percent of the total.
The voter turnout was at 50.99 percent.
"We did OK," Scalzi said. "We ran a clean campaign and stuck to the issues. I think it went well."
Bollenbach expected the percentage difference between her and Scalzi to change with the three remaining precincts.
"I was afraid we needed about three more weeks," she said. "But we gave it a good try and it was a good, positive campaign."
Scalzi, a former member of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, said no one defining moment inspired him to seek office.
"For years people have asked me to run," Scalzi said. "But I always supported Gail. When she said she wasn't going to run for re-election, that put a little pressure on me."
Also figuring in Scalzi's decision was a desire to give fisheries a stronger voice in Juneau and the end of his borough assembly term in October.
The most important factor, however, was his daughter's graduation from high school.
"I always wanted to be here while the kids were in school," said the father of two. "That was the biggest thing."
Scalzi said running for office helped him discover his personal campaign style.
"I don't like calling people at home or beating on people's doors," he said. "You've got to respect their privacy. I know that's not the normal way politicians do it, but it's what worked for me. I just want to encourage a spirit of public participation in the system."
Phillips, who has served in Alaska's House of Representa-tives since 1991, had some advice for her successor.
"Most importantly, never lose sight of who put you in office and why they put you there," she said. "And always be truthful.
"If you feel you must change your vote, and sometimes you have to change your vote because of things that happen to a bill as it goes through the process, you must go to the people that you promised your vote to and ask them to release you," she said. "If you can't do that, you lose all respect of your fellow legislators and won't have anyone to work with."
Phillips said maintaining her original commitments -- roads and schools -- throughout her legislative career helped her stay focused.
"I never changed that," she said. "Concentrating on those, we were able to do a huge amount of work for the peninsula."
Lastly, Phillips offered some practical advice.
"Take a speed reading course," she said.
Not seeking the District 7 seat caused "a little tugging of the heartstrings" for Phillips, but she said change is good for people, both herself and the general public. Once the curtain closes on her legislative career at the end of December, Phillips said to expect a formal announcement about her future plans.
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