Navarre leads race for borough mayor

With 28 of 29 precincts reporting, current Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre has taken 53.52 percent of the vote in a three-way race against Tom Bearup of Soldotna and Carrol J. Martin, also of Soldotna.

Navarre had 4,794 votes. Bearup was in second place with 3,270 or 36.51 percent of the vote. Martin was in third, with 846 votes of 9.45 percent of the vote.

Looking at the spread of votes between the candidates, Navarre said, “I don’t think we’re headed to a runoff and I’m really pleased with that.”

He said voter support was a rejection of negativity he believed had plagued the campaign for borough mayor.

“We have a lot of challenges ahead of us and need to put the election behind us and focus on how we meet the challenges of health care, LNG and all the other issues that we have as a community and as a borough,” said Navarre.

Topping his list is “building a plan” to address health care.

“I say ‘building a plan’ because it’s a huge challenge and going to take a lot of people and a shared vision in order to find ways to solve this puzzle of the high cost of health care,” he said.

Secondly, Navarre wants to examine the borough’s overall tax structure, where the tax burden falls, “what sort of growing problems we might be seeing in the future and start looking at whether or not we need to make some changes,” he said.

Also to be addressed is an LNG facility and gas line project “that will have huge impacts on the borough.”

Navarre served in the Alaska Legislature from 1985-1996. His first term as borough mayor was 1996-1999. He then was re-elected in 2011.

He expressed appreciation to all those who helped make this a successful campaign.

“I certainly want to thank everybody in all the communities for their support,” he said. “This was a great turnout for me.”

Martin, who ran on a three-point platform of wild fire protection, agricultural land protection and the increase of property values as a result of more green belts, said he was surprised by the direction of Tuesday’s election.

“I thought I’d do better a little better than that,” he said.

Bearup was unavailable for comment.

Kelly Cooper ran unopposed for KPB Assembly District 8-Homer, a seat that has been held by Bill Smith.

“I’m returning phone calls from all the assembly members, congratulating me and offering any assistance they can give,” said Cooper. “It’s nice they’re being so open and welcoming me to the group.”

Communication with constituents was a point Cooper often raised during her campaign. She intends to follow-up by making herself available to voters on a weekly basis at local coffee shops as soon as election results are certified and she is sworn in.

“I’m actually going to rotate through the coffee houses in town, beginning with Hopped Up Espresso,” said Cooper, who will announce her schedule through press releases and on Facebook.

Among the calls she received Tuesday evening was one from Bill Smith, who currently holds the assembly seat. Smith could not seek re-election because of term limits.

“He was so gracious and helpful this last month to meet with me every week to get me up to speed,” said Cooper. “I appreciate his service and time with me.”

Borough voters also weighed in on three propositions:

Advisory Proposition A1, shall the borough exercise and fund limited animal control powers for domestic animal rescue in areas of the borough outside of cities:

No: 2,831

Yes: 2,772

Advisory Proposition A2, shall there be a mill rate of 0.2 on properties outside of cities to pay for nonareawide domestic animal rescue and care related to rescue services:

No: 3,599

Yes: 1,993

Advisory Proposition B, shall the Kenai Peninsula Borough conduct borough elections by mail:

No: 5,786

Yes: 3,046

Proposition C, shall the South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area boundaries be expanded to include the area described in KPB Ordinance 2014-26:

Yes: 1,408

No: 655

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.

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