This story originally published in the Peninsula Calrion
Peninsula voters shot down a controversial proposition to fund a new school, passed another to move the border between the Central and South Peninsula Hospital Service Areas to the true midway point, and elected some fresh faces to both the borough assembly, school board and city councils.
Tuesday night’s unofficial results, with all 28 precincts reporting, show Proposition 1 failing by nearly 60 percent and Proposition 2 succeeding by 65 percent.
Many candidate races on the central peninsula were uncontested, while some were more competitive. In Kenai, three candidates, Robert Peterkin II, Teea Winger and Bob Molloy were running for two vacant city council seats.
Carol Baumer, a retired Kenai resident, said voting for Teea Winger for the Kenai City Council brought her to the polls Tuesday.
“It’s a chance to sort of do something different,” Baumer said. “We’re all aging. It’d be nice to kind of get newer people in as the rest of us age-out.”
Newcomer Peterkin II was elected to the Kenai City Council, along with incumbent Molloy. Winger fell short by only 49 votes.
“I certainly appreciate the confidence of the voters and congratulate both Robert Peterkin and Teea Winger on a really good race,” Molloy said. “I’m looking forward to working with Peterkin and the other city council members.”
In Soldotna, all three candidates ran unopposed for the three open council seats.
Todd Paxton came out on top in the Nikiski Fire Service Area board member race against Peter Ribbens.
In the contentious southern peninsula Borough Assembly race, incumbent Willy Dunne beat out Troy Jones with 626 votes against 541 votes.
In the central peninsula, both borough assembly candidates ran unopposed. District 1 candidate Hibbert came in with 426 votes for the Kalifornsky area. For District 6, which includes Seward, Hope, Moose Pass and north Sterling, Kenn Carpenter received 669 votes.
Greg Madden leads the four-way District 5 School Board race, with over 163 votes ahead of 15-year incumbent Marty Anderson.
“Congratulations to Madden,” Anderson said. “It was a privilege to serve on the school board for 15 years. It was the longest I’ve ever done anything. I hope Mr. Madden learns quickly because there’s a lot of things coming up for the school district. I wish him well.”
Nine-year incumbent Tim Navarre lost by 43 votes to Matthew Morse, in the District 2 School Board race.
“I’m happy to win and I hope to do some great things for the school district,” Morse said.
At polls from Sterling to Ninilchik, voter turnout seemed somewhat sparse, with intermittent bursts of activity that kept poll workers on their toes.
Preliminary numbers showed 9,113 voters turned out for the elections this year, down from recent years. Unofficial results show 9,113 ballots were cast, out of 47,158 registered voters — approximately 19 percent of the population. In the 2017 Regular Election, 15,177 of the 44,951 registered voters cast ballots — approximately 34 percent of the population. Only about 21 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the 2015 regular elections.
On the central peninsula, voters seemed most concerned with the K-Selo bond proposition, which would provide $5,390,000 to help build a new school in Kachemak-Selo, an Old Believer village east of Homer. The Kenai Peninsula Borough was awarded a $10,010,000 grant through the 2016-2017 state capital budget. Under the grant program, the borough must provide a 35 percent match of $5,390,000. Some voters said the K-Selo bond proposition was the primary reason they showed up at the polls.
In Kenai, Kaye Reed said she came out to vote because it was her civic duty. She said she supported the K-Selo bonds because it means the peninsula is growing.
“If we’re needing to build a new school, that means we’re having growth, and that means we should be building new schools,” Reed said.
In Soldotna, teacher Bristol Demeter said supporting education by approving the K-Selo bonds was the main reason she came out to vote. Chad Sorenson, also in Soldotna, said he came out to vote because it was his civic duty. He said he also supported the K-Selo Bond issue.
“I think the school bond is important,” Sorenson said. “It’s just the right thing to do for the little kiddos.”
In Sterling, Ted Moran said he came out specifically to vote against the K-Selo bond proposition.
“I think it’s just a waste of money for such a small area,” Moran said.
In Ninilchik, Marti Chapman also visited the polls to support the bond.
The bonds failed with 4,431 ‘no’ votes.
Although the K-Selo bond was the focus of many ballots on the central peninsula, many were ambivalent when it came to Proposition 2, which moves the common boundary between Central Peninsula Hospital Service Area and the South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area 15 miles south. The boundary between the two hospitals has always been at the Clam Gulch Tower along the Sterling Highway, which is 14.5 miles closer to the Central Peninsula Hospital than the true midway point. Chapman said she spent more time reading up on other issues.
“I didn’t do enough reading on that,” Chapman said. “I’ve been educating myself mostly on what’s coming up (in the mid-term election), with proposition 1.”
The proposition to move the border to the midway point was successful with over 65 percent of voters supporting it.
Reach Victoria Petersen at firstname.lastname@example.org.