4 candidates vie for borough mayoral seat

The special election is slated for Feb. 14

Kenai Peninsula Borough voters will pick between four candidates hoping to become the next borough mayor.

Dave Carey, Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings, Zachary Hamilton and Peter Micciche have all filed to run in the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s special mayoral election, which will be held on Feb. 14, 2023, according to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Clerk’s Office. The candidate filing period for that race closed last Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.

Whoever borough voters choose to be mayor next will take over for interim Borough Mayor Mike Navarre, who was appointed to that role by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in September and took over on Oct. 1. Navarre replaced former Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce, who resigned during his 2022 gubernatorial bid amid allegations of sexual harassment raised by his former assistant.

Borough code requires borough mayors to be elected with a majority of votes cast. If no candidate receives the majority of votes, the top two vote-getters advance to a runoff election. Per the special election schedule, election certification is scheduled for Feb. 21, 2023, followed by a runoff election, if needed, on March 7, 2023.

Soldotna City Council member Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings was the first to throw her hat in the ring for the borough’s special mayoral race; she filed her intent to run with the Alaska Public Offices Commission in August. Farnsworth-Hutchings ran against Pierce for the borough’s top job in 2017 and in 2020.

Farnsworth-Hutchings is the daughter of Soldotna homesteaders and owns Hutchings Auto Spa with her husband. She has served on the Alaska Workers Comp Board, the State of Alaska Board of Nursing and the Soldotna Parks & Recreation Advisory Board.

“I have the experience and the passion to serve as your next Borough Mayor,” Farnsworth-Hutchings is quoted as saying in a Nov. 14 press release from her campaign. “I will bring stability and non-partisan leadership to the office, which will restore confidence in the staff and the public.”

Dave Carey is also a current Soldotna City Council member vying to become the next mayor of the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Carey is a graduate of Kenai Central High School and holds both a bachelor’s degree in political science from Gonzaga University and a master’s degree in educational counseling from Gonzaga Graduate School. He is a former teacher for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and has a history of serving in local government.

Carey served on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly from 1982 to 1989, as mayor of the City of Soldotna from 2001 to 2008 and as mayor of the Kenai Peninsula Borough from 2008 to 2011. He has served on the Soldotna City Council since 2019 and also sat on the council between 1998 and 2001.

“I, David Carey, ask for your support because people have a right to be treated truthfully by government and not have their money wasted,” Carey wrote in a statement accompanying his declaration of candidacy with the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Dr. Zachary Hamilton co-owns and operates Brothers’ Café, located inside the Kenai Municipal Airport. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Hamilton has lived in the Kenai Peninsula Borough with his family since 2020.

Hamilton holds a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies from the Baptist College of Florida, as well as a master’s degree in civic and social entrepreneurship from Bakke Graduate University. Hamilton also holds a doctorate in transformational leadership from Bakke University, according to the candidate’s LinkedIn page.

“Our communities need more emerging leaders who can step into key roles in the public, private, and social sectors, who will bring enthusiasm, fresh ideas, outside experiences and perspectives, and who can honor our heritage while building a bridge from the present to the future,” Hamilton’s candidate statement says.

State Sen. Peter Micciche also filed to run for the seat. Micciche has represented the central peninsula in the Alaska Legislature for 10 years, most recently as Senate president. The state lawmaker announced earlier this year that he would not seek reelection to the Alaska State Senate.

Micciche, who has lived on the central Kenai Peninsula since 1982, has also served on the Soldotna City Council and as the mayor of Soldotna. Micciche holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Alaska Pacific University.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Clerk’s Office confirmed Wednesday evening that no other candidates had filed to run in the special mayoral race. More information about candidates can be found at kpb.us/assembly-clerk/elections/election-seats.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.