With Ken Lancaster preparing to take office as District 8's representative in Juneau, Soldotna will need to find someone to serve out the remaining two years of his term as mayor.
Lancaster was elected to a third term as mayor in October 1999. City law stipulates that if a mayor vacates the office more than six months prior to the next election, a special election must be held, according to Soldotna City Clerk Pat Burdick.
Burdick said the city council must adopt a resolution calling for a special election before she can advertise for declarations of candidacy. And the council can't put forward such a resolution until it has the mayor's letter of resignation.
Lancaster said he would probably not submit his resignation until Jan. 9, 2001.
Lancaster is following in the footsteps of Gary Davis, the man he replaces as representative. Davis resigned from his post as Soldotna mayor in December 1992, when he was elected to the District 8 seat, and Bill Reeder was elected to finish the last year of Davis' term.
If Lancaster leaves for Juneau before a new mayor can take office, Soldotna vice mayor Jim Stogsdill will serve as interim mayor.
Burdick said she did not know when a special election would be held, but said it would probably be in January.
"That's going to be my assumption," she said.
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Lancaster, a Republican, defeated Democratic challenger Pete Sprague by a 3,698-to-2,070-vote margin in Tuesday's election to represent the Soldotna-Seward area.
Meanwhile, District 9 Representative-elect Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, plans to give up his seat on the Kenai Peninsula Borough School Board to devote his full attention to the Legislature.
"I won't do both. I'll resign, because being in Juneau for an estimated four months I can't do justice to the school board," Chenault said. "The school board is an important job. Whoever sits there has to be readily available."
Chenault defeated one-term incumbent Rep. Hal Smalley, D-Kenai, 2,879 votes to 2,291 votes to represent District 9, stretching from Nikiski, through Kenai, to a portion of Kalifornsky Beach Road, in Tuesday's general election. Chenault will take office in January.
"I expect to resign from the school board sometime between now and then," he said.
School board President Deb Germano said Joyce Fischer was the last school board member to resign, a few months before her term expired, in June 1998. At that time, the school board advertised for candidates, then selected Sammy Crawford as the replacement until the October 1998 election. Crawford won and still sits on the school board.
Germano said the board will advertise Chenault's seat, conduct interviews, then make an appointment to serve until October 2001, when someone will be elected to serve out the last year of Chenault's term.
She said the board received very good candidates two years ago and expects more to apply this year. Since school board members are elected at large, applications will be accepted from qualified residents across the borough, not just Chenault's home of Nikiski.
Germano characterized Che-nault's imminent departure from the school board as a loss.
"Mike has been with us exactly a year now, and he's really just gotten his feet wet," she said. "It takes a year or three to find out what's going on and how to operate and be effective."
Chenault's replacement will miss out on school board member orientation, Germano said.
"We'll have someone brand new who's looking at going through the whole budget process," she said.
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