Two people who intended to run for the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly didn’t get paperwork done in time for the filing deadline last Monday and won’t appear on the ballot.
In Assembly District 8, which represents Homer, Paul Hueper of Homer had intended to run for the seat currently held by Assembly President Kelly Cooper. Hueper did not get the original copy of his declaration of candidacy to the borough clerk’s office by the deadline of noon on Monday, Aug. 17.
“I got all of the emails and everything in to the borough hoping that was going to suffice, only learning they needed the hard copy original in hand by that noon,” Hueper said in a phone interview from his parents’ home in northern Minnesota.
In Assembly District 5, Soldotna-Funny River, Leslie Morton of Soldotna did file her declaration of candidacy form, but missed filing her financial disclosure statement with the Alaska Public Offices Commission — by one minute.
“I missed that one,” Morton said. “I tried to get it done in time but I missed it by a minute. So it goes.”
Both seats have only one candidate running and are uncontested. Lane Chesley of Homer is the candidate for the District 8 seat and Bill Elam is the candidate for the District 5 seat.
Borough Clerk Johni Blankenship said that under borough code, the declaration of candidacy must be received as a hard or original copy by the noon Monday filing deadline. The filing period for borough elections started Aug. 3 and normally runs to Aug. 15. Because Aug. 15 was a Saturday, the deadline was extended a half day to the next business day, or the following Monday of Aug. 17. Candidates can file financial disclosure reports online, but those must have a date stamp before the filing deadline. APOC confirmed Morton’s financial disclosure statement was filed 12:01 p.m. Aug. 17.
Hueper and his wife, Marilyn Hueper, left Alaska on Aug. 9 after he received word that his father was in poor health and dying; his father later died on Friday, Aug. 21. Hueper’s family lives in a remote area of northern Minnesota in the Boundary Waters region near the Canadian border. He said he sent the original declaration of candidacy form by express mail to the borough clerk’s office.
“We’re in such a remote area. They simply didn’t get the notice (of declaration of candidacy) in time by Monday noon,” Hueper said.
Blankenship said she received Hueper’s form on Aug. 20. She said the borough code is explicit about how a declaration of candidacy form must be submitted and received. There is no appeal process, she said.
“I followed the rules. It’s not always popular,” Blankenship said.
Hueper conceded he should have filed his declaration of candidacy form earlier.
“Granted, I should have been there opening day,” he said. “… My mistake. I accept that.”
Hueper said he talked to the borough attorney and did consider contesting the decision not to accept his candidacy form, but decided against it.
As early as February, Hueper had filed APOC paperwork announcing his intention to run. He also had organized a campaign team, including political activist Cassie Lawver as his treasurer.
“I felt bad for all the people who helped me, supported me, and all that,” he said. “I had a really nice team in place.”
Along with the loss of his father and not filing on time, while traveling, Hueper’s wife, Marilyn Hueper, got exposed to the novel coronavirus and tested positive for COVID-19. Hueper tested negative. He said his wife is recovering. She had no symptoms other than being tired.
Hueper was philosophical about not running for the assembly.
“Why ruin a perfectly good life and get involved in politics?” he said. “I’m really OK. I’m fine. I’m disappointed. … I felt like I had something to offer. I’ll accept God’s timing on this. It was not meant to be.”
Morton ran for the District 5 assembly seat in 2017, losing to Norm Blakeley. She made the final decision to run the weekend before the filing deadline and went in Monday to file. She got her declaration of candidacy form in time and thought she had done all the required APOC paperwork. When she realized she was missing the financial disclosure form, Morton said she went home to her computer to correct the error.
“I tried to get home in time and submit,” she said. “One less red light and I might have made it. I understand they have to have a cut-off time. I was disappointed. There’s not much I can do about it.”
Reach Michael Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org.