In unofficial election results for the lower Kenai Peninsula elections, Ken Castner is the apparent winner for Homer Mayor, defeating three-term former city council member David Lewis.
In borough elections, Kenai Peninsula Borough District 9 Assembly member Willy Dunne is the apparent winner over East End Road pioneer Troy Jones.
Incumbent council members Donna Aderhold and Heath Smith easily won election in a three-way race. Candidate Deb Lowney had actively withdrawn from the campaign last month for family reasons.
Ken Castner: 666
David Lewis: 576
Homer has a new mayor in Ken Castner, who won the seat for a three-year term according to preliminary results released Tuesday night. Caster won by a margin of 90 votes and with 53 percent, while contender David Lewis received 576 votes or 46 percent. There were also 19 write-in votes. With 1,261 votes cast out of 4,972 registered voters, turnout was about 25 percent.
“I’m happy about that,” Castner said Tuesday night. “Nobody lost in this election with me being mayor.”
Castner explained that because he ran on a unity campaign of being a citizen mayor and on a pledge to not vote to break a tie, Homer has a mayor with no agenda.
“I ran to bring both sides together. I was only interested in the product of government,” he said. “As a nation and a town we should start working together. Now we can start working together.”
That message resonated with voters, Castner said, and not only from city residents.
“I think the citizens wanted that,” he said. “I feel like they did. It’s not a 60-percent mandate, but it’s still a goodly mandate.”
Lewis, a three-term former Homer City Council member who weathered a bitter recall attempt last year, congratulated Castner on his win.
“Congratulations. Have fun,” Lewis said. “You’re now in charge somewhat, because the mayor is more of a figurehead. Good luck with that and treat the employees well.”
He also was philosophical about his loss.
“People voted and that’s what they wanted,” Lewis said. “Not much I can say.”
With the city budget cycle starting this month, Castner said that will be his first order of business.
“I’m a numbers guy, he said. “I’m going to give the budget a harder work over than any other mayor has.”
When recall proponents first proposed the idea of kicking Lewis out in March 2017, Lewis joked then that he hoped they would do it soon so he could watch the March Madness basketball playoffs.
“I’m back on vacation and permanent retirement,” he said. “On Monday nights I’m watching the NCAA championships and everything else that comes around.”
About 320 absentee, question or special-needs ballots were turned in, with nine more outstanding by mail. Those ballots will be counted by the canvass board on Friday and certified by the Homer City Council at its Monday, Oct 8, meeting.
Borough assembly District 9
Willy Dunne: 626
Troy Jones: 541
Current Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member Willy Dunne is poised to return to his seat for a three-year term after Tuesday’s election, with 85 more votes than newcomer Troy Jones. With absentee, question and special needs ballots still be to counted, Jones said he’s not ready to call the race and is looking forward to the final count.
“My position is it’s not over ‘till it’s over and everything is counted,” he said.
Jones, Alaska homesteader and owner of East Road Services, said his first run at a political office was a great learning experience.
“It’s been a fun run,” he said.
Jones thanked everyone who supported him and everyone who went out to vote. Dunne said, compared to what he remembers from the 2015 municipal election when he first made it onto the assembly, there may have been a higher voter turnout in District 9 this year.
Dunne said he feels comfortable that he will retain his lead after the final votes are tallied.
“It feels pretty good,” he said of the preliminary results. “I think my experience at the assembly and my campaign has paid off. The people seem to have spoken.”
Dunne said he had a great group of election volunteers helping with his campaign. He added that it’s been nice getting to know his opponent in the process.
“I really respect Troy,” Dunne said. “And I hope he’ll stay involved in the community and perhaps get involved on some local committee or service area.”
According to preliminary results, Kachemak Selo will not get the money it needs for a new school facility. With all precincts reporting Tuesday night, voters failed the proposition asking for general obligation bonds for the project by a margin of 1,433 votes.
The proposition asked voters to allow the borough to go out to bond for about $5.5 million to help pay for a new school in Kachemak Selo (about 30 miles east of Homer).
The three building currently being used to house k-12 students in the remote village are far past their useful lives, according to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and borough staff.
The borough is currently eligible for a $10 million grant from the state to pay for a new school. Now that the bond proposition that would have provided the required local match has failed, the borough will likely have to foot the entire bill when a new school is built. Rep. Paul Seaton has explained that there is a chance to get the grant extended, but that it would be difficult.
Several borough and school district officials have said that the borough will have to build a new school anyway. State regulations prohibit boroughs from housing students in unsafe buildings and require that boroughs be responsible for building new facilities when they are needed.
Props 2 and 3
Proposition 2 asked voters in the central peninsula and those in a proposed expanded area if they wanted to extend the CPH Service Area boundary about 15 miles south to Barbara Drive in Ninilchik. Proposition 3 asked voters in the south peninsula and those in a proposed expanded area across Kachemak Bay if they wanted to extend the SPH Service Area boundary to include the land south of Kachemak Bay, but excluding the city of Seldovia.
Homer City Council
Donna Aderhold: 750
Heath Smith: 638
Deb Lowney: 526
Current Homer City Council members Donna Aderhold and Heath Smith were elected to the two seats that were open. This will be the second term on council for each of them.
While the race was uncontested, Deb Lowney, a member of the Parks, Art, Culture and Recreation Advisory Commission and the Homer Education and Recreation Complex Task Force, also appeared on the ballot as a choice for one of the council seats. However, she announced shortly after having filed to run for office that she would not actively campaign and that she would not be able to sit on the council due to family matters.
There were 103 write-in votes cast in the council race.
Board of Education
Mike Illg: 219
A southern peninsula resident was also re-elected to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education in an uncontested race for his seat.
Homer resident Mike Illg received 1,249 with two our of four precincts reporting Tuesday night. There were 14 write-in votes cast.
Illg represents District 8 on the board, and is currently the treasurer.
Illg was originally appointed to the board in 2016 to fill out a term that lasted until 2017. At that point he ran and was elected to a one-year seat on the board.