Candidate materials are available this week in clerks’ offices around the Kenai Peninsula for people interested in running for local office this fall.
There’s less than three months until the Oct. 3 municipal election, and multiple seats on city councils, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly and the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education will be up for grabs. The filing period for people interested in running for local office will open on Aug. 1 and close on Aug. 15.
There are more elected seats open this election season than normal due to midterm vacancies that have occurred in the last year on the borough assembly, the Soldotna City Council and the local school board.
In Soldotna, voters will cast their ballots for a city mayor and two city council members. Incumbent Mayor Paul Whitney was elected in 2020 after eight years of service on the city council. Council member Dan Nelson, who holds City Council Seat B, was elected in 2021 for a two-year, partial term.
The council seat currently held by council member Chera Wackler will also appear on the City of Soldotna’s ballot this year. Wackler in January was appointed to City Council Seat F by council members after former council member Justin Ruffridge was elected to the Alaska Legislature.
All three seats open in the City of Soldotna this election cycle are for full three-year terms. Those interested in running for office in Soldotna must be a citizen of the United States, a qualified voter of the City of Soldotna and have been a resident of the City of Soldotna for at least one year preceding the date of their declaration of candidacy.
In Kenai, two city council seats are up for grabs: those held by Henry Knackstedt and Teea Winger. Both were last elected to council in 2020. Knackstedt has served on the council since 2014 and previously chaired the Kenai Airport Commission. Winger was first elected to the council in 2020.
Whoever is elected will serve a full three-year term on the council. Those interested in running for a seat on the Kenai City Council must be at least 21 years old, be a qualified voter of the City of Kenai and have lived in the city for at least one year at the time of their election.
Candidates for office in the city of Kenai must also submit with their statement of candidacy and financial disclosure statement a nomination petition that contains at least 20 signatures of registered City of Kenai voters.
Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly and KPBSD Board of Education
On the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, four assembly seats will appear on this year’s municipal ballot: District 2-Kenai, currently held by Richard Derkevorkian; District 5-Sterling/Funny River, currently held by Bill Elam; and District 8-Homer, currently held by Lane Chesley.
Also up for grabs this fall is the District 3-Nikiski seat currently held by Peter Ribbens. The assembly in January appointed Ribbens to the seat after former assembly member Jesse Bjorkman was elected to the Alaska Legislature. Bjorkman ran concurrently for reelection to the borough assembly last fall, so whoever is elected in October will serve a partial, two-year assembly term.
A candidate for the borough assembly or for school board must be a qualified Alaska voter and have been a resident of the district they want to serve for at least a year. Kenai Peninsula Borough Clerk Michele Turner said Monday that candidate materials for those seeking election to borough office will be available for pickup at the borough’s office later this week.
On the KPBSD Board of Education, borough voters will cast ballots in four races this fall. Board members with terms ending this year include President Debbie Cary, who represents District 7-Kasilof/Central; Treasurer Penny Vadla, who represents District 4-Soldotna; and Clerk Jason Tauriainen, who represents District 3-Nikiski.
The seat currently held by Dr. Beverley Romanin is also up this year. Romanin, who represents Sterling, was appointed to the school board last October after the departure of former board member Jennifer Waller.
Voters around the peninsula will also cast their votes for a Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor — less than eight months after Peter Micciche was elected to serve the remainder of former Mayor Charlie Pierce’s term. Borough code requires borough mayors to be elected with a majority of votes cast; if no candidate receives more than 50% of votes cast, the race advances to a runoff election between the two highest vote-getters.
A mayoral runoff election, if needed after Oct. 3, would be held on Oct. 24, according to the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
More information about local elections can be found on municipalities’ respective websites.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org.