Council write-in campaign falters after eligibility issue

A brief Homer City Council write-in campaign that started last week ended Monday after the candidate, Connor Schmidt, discovered he had not changed his voter registration in time to be eligible.

Schmidt, 25, had considered officially filing in August to run for one of two, 3-year open seats on the council. When Deb Lowney filed, he stayed out of the race, but put his name back in last Friday after Lowney announced she would not actively campaign. Lowney withdrew after the death of her niece, Shay Lowney, and increased family responsibilities in caring for her niece’s three children.

Because Schmidt missed the filing deadline, he had to run as a write-in candidate. Incumbent council members Donna Aderhold and Heath Smith are the only candidates actively campaigning.

“It’s not much of a race when there are two people running for two seats,” Schmidt said in an interview early Monday about why he decided to try a write-in campaign. “It gives people the chance to vote for another person.”

Those hopes got dashed when Schmidt found out he had not changed his voter registration in time to meet candidate qualification requirements. Under city code, to be eligible for city council, a candidate must be a qualified voter and “is registered to vote in State elections at a residence address within the municipality at least 30 days before the municipal election at which the person seeks to vote.”

Schmidt has been a city resident for two years, he said in a statement sent to the Homer News on Tuesday, and believed he was eligible.

“Much to my dismay, I had a slight oversight and did not change my voting registration to be within city limits in time to be eligible for city council this year,” he wrote.

At age 25, if elected, Schmidt would have been one of the youngest Homer council members ever. He said he wanted to run to represent younger Homer residents and the issues they face, especially affordable housing and cost of living.

Originally from Colorado, Schmidt first visited Homer in June 2016, and decided he wanted to stay by August. He works as the peer education director at the R.E.C. Room and previously worked at South Peninsula Haven House organizing the Green Dot Homer campaign.

In his statement, Schmidt said, “I cannot be more thankful to the Homer community that has inspired me and empowered me to continue working for our town. The overwhelming amount of support that I received over the past month as I’ve wrestled with my decision to run has left me in awe.”

Schmidt said he plans on further expanding his civic experience by applying for a city commission.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.

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