Charlie Pierce speaks during a forum for borough mayoral candidates in September. Pierce is headed for a runoff election against Linda Hutchings on Oct. 24. (Photo by Will Morrow/Peninsula Clarion)

Pierce wins borough mayor’s seat

Charlie Pierce will take over as mayor of the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

The final vote tally Tuesday showed Pierce leading opponent Linda Hutchings by a razor-thin margin — 45 votes, to be exact. Pierce won 50.3 percent of the vote, with 4,301 votes, to Hutchings’ 49.7 percent of the vote, or 4,256 votes.

The night of the election Oct. 24 concluded with Pierce about 226 votes in the lead, but the absentee by mail, questioned and early voters favored Hutchings, bringing the margin up to about half a percent differential. Official turnout came through significantly lower than the Oct. 3 municipal regular election, with about 19 percent of voters turning out as compared to more than 25 percent on Oct. 3.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly certified the election results at its Tuesday meeting on the consent agenda.

Outgoing mayor Mike Navarre congratulated Pierce on his victory. Navarre will leave office Friday and start his new position as the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development on Monday. During his comments at the end of the meeting, he thanked the borough staff for their service and the community.

“It has been an honor,” he said. “… It’s a big challenge, and I want to wish Charlie the best as he takes on the challenge.”

At the end of the assembly meeting, Pierce thanked Navarre for his service as well as the borough clerk’s office and his supporters and family. He will meet with Navarre in the coming days before taking the oath of office and starting the job Monday. He has named Nikiski resident John Quick as his chief of staff.

He thanked Hutchings and Dale Bagley, who ran and was eliminated from the race in the Oct. 3 results, for their effort.

“It was a hard-fought race,” he said. “I want to thank both of you. I want to wish Mrs. Hutchings the best and I look forward to working with you, Mr. Bagley, for the next several years.”

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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