Borough term limits on ballot for fourth time

  • By Greg Skinner
  • Wednesday, August 14, 2013 1:49pm
  • NewsBusiness

Kenai Peninsula Borough voters will, for a fourth time, have a chance on the fall ballot to decide in a yes or no vote to repeal term limits. 

A second ballot question, asking voters if the limit should be increased from two to three terms, becomes relevant only if the voters do not repeal the limits.

For a third session, the assembly last week entangled itself in a publicly unpopular attempt to overturn voter imposed term limits on their offices. 

One amendment after another was offered as assembly members tried to cobble together an ordinance that would overturn limits brought about by a 2009 citizen initiative.

At least five assembly members offered amendments to one or more of three possible ordinances — which were developed over the proceeding three months — seeking to repeal limits on their ability to hold office for more than two consecutive terms.

“I’m still confused,” said Linda Murphy minutes after the 7-2 vote putting term limits back before voters.

Murphy was not alone in her confusion as fellow assembly members and citizens in the galley declared the entire process to be confusing and overly complicated.

Twice, Murphy called a recess for clarity’s sake. At one point, she requested the borough attorney read an amended version of the original ordinance, up for a vote, after the legal language became complex.

Assembly members, Kelly Wolf, District 1, and Charlie Pierce, District 5, voted against the final ordinance declaring that voters spoke definitively in favor of term limits on three separate occasions.

“How many times must the people vote?” asked Pierce. “Do we do it until we get it the way we want it?”

Many believe that low voter turnout on Election Day will effectively end term limits, if the pro- repeal assembly members can rally their dedicated constituencies to the polls for the vote.

Wolf warned that odd year elections draw few voters to Kenai elections. A small percentage of voters will show up on something that affects 56,000 residents, he said.

“That’s where my problem is,” Wolf said.

A notable shift occurred when District 9 assemblymember Mako Haggerty flopped on his July promise to vote against any repeal because his constituency hade voted for term limits three times in the last 20 years.

“I’m going to vote against,” Haggerty said on July 2. “The people voted, so it will stand.”

People change their mind, he said during the Aug. 6 meeting.

Initially offered by District 2 Assemblyman and Assembly Vice President Hal Smalley back in June, the ordinance sought to simply overturn the two-term limit imposed by voters twice, once in a non-binding advisory vote.

Smalley continued to favor total repeal by assembly action rather than voter choice, which was eventually approved. Warning not to “confuse” the voters, Smalley said he would like to see a repeal or not by the assembly.

Pierce warned against the pro-repeal statements that the borough has lost talented leadership over term limits. There are better people than you out there, he said to his fellow assembly members.

“No person is irreplaceable,” he said.

 

More in News

Teaser
Then Now: Looking back on pandemic response

Comparing messaging from 1918 to 2021

Damage in a corner on the inside of the middle and high school building of Kachemak Selo School Nov. 12, 2019, in Kachemak Selo, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Repair costs rise as school facilities deteriorate

About $420 million worth of maintenance is needed at Kenai Peninsula Borough School District buildings.

Golden-yellow birch trees and spruce frame a view of Aurora Lagoon and Portlock Glacier from a trail in the Cottonwood-Eastland Unit of Kachemak Bay State Park off East End Road on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, near Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong)
State Parks to hold meeting on Eastland Cottonwood unit

Meeting will include update on Tutka Bay Hatchery bill

Renewable IPP CEO Jenn Miller presents information about solar power during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Company looks to build solar farm on peninsula

It would be roughly 20 times the size of the largest solar farm currently in the state.

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Soldotna Trooper arrested for multiple charges of child sex abuse

He has been a State Trooper in Soldotna since June 2020.

This photo shows the Alaska State Capitol. An Alaska state lawmaker was cited for driving with an open can of beer in his vehicle that another lawmaker said was actually his. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)
Lawmaker cited for open beer fellow legislator says was his

Republican Sen. Josh Revak plans to challenge the $220 ticket.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File
This 2011 photo shows the Taku and Malaspina ferries at the Auke Bay Terminal.
Costs add up as ferry idled nearly 2 years

Associated Press The cost to the state for docking an Alaska ferry… Continue reading

The Federal Aviation Administration released an initiative to improve flight safety in Alaska for all aviation on Oct. 14, 2021. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
FAA releases Alaska aviation safety initiatives

The recommendations, covering five areas, range from improvements in hardware to data-gathering.

AP Photo / Becky Bohrer
The Alaska Capitol is shown on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. There is interest among lawmakers and Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy in settling a dispute over the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend program, but no consensus on what the program should look like going forward.
Alaskans get annual boost of free money from PFD

Checks of $1,114 are expected to be paid to about 643,000 Alaskans, beginning this week.

Most Read