Two file for Homer mayor, three for city council seats

Editor’s note: Mayoral candidate Ken Castner said that in 1977 he did not challenge Homer’s 1-year residency requirement to run for office, but code then in effect which said to run for office a candidate had to be “a resident of the Homer Recording District for a period of three years including a residency within the City of Homer for a period of one year immediately preceding the election day on which he is a candidate,” according to the ruling in Castner v. City of Homer 1979. After Castner challenged that code in August 1977, in October 1997 voters passed a change deleting the 3-year area residency requirement. The Alaska Supreme Court upheld the 1-year city residency requirement.

The local race for seats in the Homer government is heating up as more candidates throw their names into the hat.

There are two Homer City Council seats coming open this cycle for the Oct. 2 Regular Election. They are currently held by Donna Aderhold and Heath Smith. Both Smith and Aderhold have filed to run for re-election. The council seats are both for three-year terms. Voters choose two of the candidates, and the top two vote-getters are elected as long as a candidate wins a plurality of 35 percent.

A former research wildlife biologist, Aderhold, has held her seat for one cycle beginning in 2015, and has served on the city’s ADA Compliance Committee since 2016. She’s currently the program coordinator of Gulf Watch Alaska’s long-term marine ecosystem monitoring program. Challenged in a 2017 attempted recall with former council members David Lewis and Catriona Reynolds, all three beat the recall attempt.

Smith has also served on the council since 2015, and has sat on the Economic Development Commission for the same amount of time. Professionally, Smith has spent 21 years with the United Parcel Service.

Retired teacher Deb Lowney has also filed to run for one of the two open seats. Lowney serves on the Parks, Art, Recreation and Culture Advisory Committee, and was recently appointed to the Homer Education and Recreation Complex Task Force. She taught at Homer Middle School and coached multiple sports at both the middle school and Homer High School.

The position of Homer Mayor, a two-year term, is also up for election this cycle. Mayor Bryan Zak did not file for re-election. Last week, Zak announced that he had recently had brain surgery for a possible cancerous tumor and will be starting radiation treatment soon.

Former council member David Lewis and Ken Castner III have both filed for the mayoral position. Lewis, who was first elected to the council in 2008, served on it for nine years. During that time he also served on the city’s Cannabis Advisory Commission and the Harbor Improvement Task Force. Lewis spent more than 20 years in the realm of teaching and 11 with the University of Alaska Anchorage, Kachemak Bay Campus Youth Job Training Program.

Lewis also ran for mayor in the 2016 election, losing to Zak.

Castner, a resident of the Homer area since 1973, is a former commercial fisherman and has served on the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council. He helped found the Homer Foundation, and served on an earlier version of the Police Station Building Task Force.

Castner sued the city in the 1970s over its requirement for elected officials to have one year of residency in order to be elected. In 2015, Castner also successfully challenged the city’s gasline assessment rules that said condominium units got separate assessments.

Read all the candidates’ statements and information on the City of Homer website, at

Reach Megan Pacer at