Borough mayor runoff is Tuesday

Voters choose between candidates Charlie Pierce and Linda Hutchings in a runoff election in the Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor’s race to be held Tuesday, Oct. 24. Polls are open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m.

Candidates Pierce and Hutchings finished in the top two slots in the three-person race, defeating former borough mayor and current assembly member Dale Bagley. In final results of the Oct. 3 election, Pierce carried about 38 percent of the vote, Hutchings carried about 31 percent and Bagley carried 29 percent. None of them reached the 50-percent threshold required to avoid a runoff.

Pierce, 58, served on the borough assembly from 2008-14. His family moved to Alaska in 1975, and after graduating from Bartlett High School in 1977, Pierce intended to learn to be a paramedic. Attending business school, he started working at ENSTAR Natural Gas to pay for classes.

From 1977-90 he worked with the Anchorage operations of ENSTAR and from 1990-2016 he was division manager of ENSTAR on the Kenai Peninsula. During his time at ENSTAR he oversaw the extension of the natural gas pipeline from Anchor Point to Homer and the build out of the line in the city of Homer and in borough service areas.

“You need a good manager to run our resources at this time,” Pierce said at a Homer Chamber of Commerce forum on Sept. 14. “You need a good manager to be a generalist, not just to drill down into the budget, but to keep us through the next 10 years in the borough.”

Hutchings, 68, of Soldotna, served on the Alaska Workers Compensation Board in 2005 and 2017 and on the Soldotna Charter Commission in 2015-16. She currently is on the Soldotna Parks and Recreation Commission.

From a peninsula homesteading family, she is an accountant and has worked for 40 years for Hutchings Auto Group and is now chief financial officer. Hutchings cited her business experience as her chief qualification for mayor.

“I feel like being a business person, I know how to drill down into a budget and look for efficiencies,” she said.

The runoff election flared up when allegations flew about a 17-year-old domestic violence harassment charge against Pierce and accusations by Pierce that Hutchings had dredged up the charges (see “Personal attacks,” Business, page 2).