Unofficial results from Tuesday’s municipal election have some familiar faces joining certain governing bodies and new ones joining others.
In the Kodiak City Council race, Councilmen Randy Bishop and Terry Haines were re-elected for two, three year terms. Haines garnered the most votes with 343 and Bishop received 291. Marnie Leist trailed with 228 votes and David Haught had 106.
There will be no returning faces to the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly. Newcomers Dan Rohrer, Larry LeDoux and Rebecca Skinner will each take a three year assembly seat. Rohrer led the polls with 1,137 votes, followed by LeDoux with 1,121 and Skinner receiving 671. Incumbents Tuck Bonney and Dave Kaplan failed to get enough votes to keep their seats, earning 594 and 440 votes, respectively. Jascha Zbitnoff received 230 votes and Brenda Schwantes had 221.
Proposition 1 passed by a large margin, earning 1043 yes votes and 548 nos.
Borough Clerk Nova Javier said there are still 292 outstanding ballots to be couned. Those include absentee, question, personal representative and absentee by mail ballots. Those could alter the numbers, so results are unofficial until they are counted. For the city, Clerk Debra Marlar said there are 43 absentee ballots and five were sent out by mail, which she said likely won’t influence the city council results.
With two weeks until election day, it will be a full evening of candidate forums tonight, as candidates for school board, city council and borough assembly face off in the borough building.
All three governing bodies have a much larger candidate pool than in recent years, especially for the assembly. The unpopular “decorum ordinance,” which the assembly recently repealed, has been cited as a reason for so many people throwing their hats into the ring.
There are five challengers in the assembly race, former school superintendent and Alaska Department of Education director Larry LeDoux, Brenda Schwantes, Dan Rohrer, Rebecca Skinner and Jascha Zbitnoff. They will take on incumbents Dave Kaplan and Tuck Bonney, but not Assemblyman Mell Stephens, who chose not to seek re-election. Three seats are up for grabs this year, and all terms are for three years.
For the school board, there are three candidates for two open seats. Incumbent Katie Oliver is be joined on the ballot by Jeff Stewart and Duncan Fields. The second open seat was once filled by Todd Haley, who left Kodiak earlier this year.
There are two challengers for the two incumbents on the city council. Marnie Leist and David Haught are looking to unseat Terry Haines and Randy Bishop.
There are a number of people running for the various borough service area boards, but they are not part of tonight’s debate.
The municipal election two weeks from today, on Tuesday, October 7th.
KMXT will broadcast all three forums live tonight, starting at 6 p.m.
As a result of tonight’s candidate event, the Kodiak City Council work session has been rescheduled for Thursday, before its regular meeting.
At Thursday’s Kodiak City Council meeting, city manager Aimee Kniaziowski gave brief updates on various maintenance and construction projects around town. Some are coming along quicker than scheduled, such as the latest phase of water and sewer upgrades in Aleutian Homes.
“The curb and gutter is complete. Multiple retaining walls are under construction, the D-1, sidewalks and street pavements are schedule to start in two weeks, and traffic will be limited to local access only. And we expect the contractor, Brechan, to be done by the end of this month, which is way early. We really appreciate it; the project’s gone very well.”)
She said Ohno Construction is doing some repairs to the Baranof Park football field around the mascot logo in the center of the field, and has extending the warranty on work done on the baseball field:
“Last spring and winter we had a problem with standing water on that field. They’ve agreed to extend the warranty and give it another year. What we think that happened was the ground was frozen underneath, not allowing the water to drain through. And we haven’t seen that back up. They want to observe it some more before they start tearing up that turf.”
Kniaziowski noted the asphalt milling and repaving going on along Mill Bay Road. Work at the intersection of Birch has already been done.
“They’re working on three other segments that in are chronic drainage areas, problem areas. Benny Benson, Bancroft, and kind of right in front of King Fisher Air. So hopefully, they’ll mill that, replace it and increase the crown of the road, and hopefully we can nurse that along a little bit and make that road hold together for a longer time.”
Mill Bay Road was completely resurfaced about five years ago, but ruts and potholes developed over the last few years.
Down on the waterfront, Kniaziowski said Harbormaster Lon White is working with the state to facilitate the Pier 1 replacement project:
“They’re going to be starting on that here this month. Pacific Pile and Marine is the contractor, and they’ll begin pulling down the old Pier 1, which is an old timber-pile dock, and replacing it. The ferry and the state, they’re looking for options for ferry office space and a construction office. Initially we thought maybe they would come to Pier 2, but it looks like they’re looking around. They’re going to try some other things.”
She also informed the council that a Parks and Recreation department crew has been trying to clean up around the Mall, and tended to the trees and flower beds there as well.
At Thursday night’s Kodiak City Council meeting, two members and the mayor responded to some harsh criticism when the anti-Defense Authorization Act resolution failed last month on a tie-breaking vote by Mayor Pat Branson.
Councilman Gabriel Saravia said he received what he described as a threatening communication from a local supporter of PANDAA, the “People Against the National Defense Authorization Act,” trying to coerce him to change his vote. Continue reading
After the next Kodiak City Council is sworn in, members, and the mayor, will be receiving a monthly stipend double what it is now. The vote was 4-1 in favor of the ordinance which would increase the council’s pay from $200 per month to $400, and the mayor’s from $250 to $500.
No citizens spoke during the public hearing on the matter. Councilman Charlie Davidson, who has spent most of the last couple decades serving on the council, was one of the sponsors.
“I feel it’s only fair for what the amount of work this council has been putting in the past year. And if anybody in the public doesn’t think it’s fair, I’ll be happy to show you what we do and why I feel like I do.”
Councilman Gabriel Saravia, another veteran councilman, laid out several reasons why he thought the raise was warranted.
“Some people they maybe need the money to live, maybe some people not have a good job, maybe some people not retired yet. And maybe it increases the opportunity to people to serve on the council. We have elections every year, you know they offer opportunities to everybody and I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Councilman Rich Walker said the doubling of the council and mayor’s pay would only bring them up to about the middle of what their counterparts in similar cities receive.
“We researched this, and this hasn’t been changed since 1984. We’re the sixth largest city in the state right now? And we went through the list of all the councils working through all the major cities in Alaska and found out we were on the very low end of the totem pole. I don’t even know if we ranked on there it was so low. You know, what we’re asking for here is just an increase up to about the mid range of what other communities are getting for the same type of value of work.”
Councilman Terry Haines said an increase of workload warrants a raise, and added that it may be the impetus that would bring out more candidates.
“Well we did have a lot of discussion about this, and we’ve been talking about it for years, frankly. But it’s been an awfully long time since it’s been raised, and the amount of time commitment and effort commitment has frankly increased in the time I’ve been on the council. I think what really convinced me, though, was that in the future I really think there are members of the community who might serve, but yet are unable to because of the time commitment because they have to do something else. And this might allow some members of our community to serve who can’t now.”
Councilman Randy Bishop was the only member to vote no on the raise:
“I don’t support the fact that this is used as a marketing tool for people to accept this position. I believe people should accept this position for their dedication, heart and love for the city.”
And with Councilman John Whiddon absent, that’s how the voting broke down, with the raise passing 4-to-1 and Bishop dissenting. The raises go into effect on November 1st.
The mayor regularly makes proclamations to draw attention or recognize people or events or causes that they feel are important to the community. At tonight’s Kodiak City Council meeting, Mayor Pat Branson will make a proclamation of something that is near and dear to her, as the Senior Citizens of Kodiak executive director.
“It’s National Senior Center Month and it’s sponsored by the National Council on Aging, and the National Institute of Senior Centers. And it happens every September. And so each September our agency puts on extra activities to celebrate our senior center that’s been around in Kodiak since 1973.”
In recognition, she says the Kodiak Senior Center will have many special activities this month:
“Well, we have trivia every Friday, and we have a wonderful grand prize: a NOOK that’s going to be given away on the 26th, the last Friday of the month. We have walks continuing each Friday. We have Breakfast for Brains going on each Wednesday morning at 9 o’clock, pinochle in the afternoon, games in the afternoon. Yoga starts again with Veronica Costa-Bolton, she does a great job and that starts on the 15th. We have exercise on Tuesday and Thursday, and that’s exercise with Katrina. Each Thursday we have our computer classes starting up. We have lunch and learn going on this month as well, story telling. Lots of things going on.” Continue reading