Political seats go up for grabs

• City and borough seats open for upcoming election Oct. 6

By Naomi Klouda
Homer Tribune

The filing period for Homer City Council, Kenai Peninsula Borough and school board seats opened Monday in preparation for the upcoming Oct. 6 election.
Three seats on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly are open, including Gary Knopp’s Kalifornsky seat, Ron Long’s East Peninsula seat and Milli Martin’s South Peninsula seat.
Under term limits imposed by borough code, Martin and Long will not be allowed to run for another term. Both have served since 2000. Knopp has served since 2003.
Two Homer City Council seats – currently held by Dennis Novak and Francie Roberts – are also up for re-election.
Novak, who has served on the council since 2003, has announced he will not run again.
“There’s only so much time, and I need to shift where I put mine,” Novak said, adding that challenging upcoming budget issues are something he wishes he could stick around for those.
“The budget will cut across everyone in the community. People have to accept some hard realities that I think we’ve really been able to ignore at this point. A lot of people in the Lower 48 have suffered more, and maybe we haven’t appreciated that.”
Novak said he hopes new candidates will step up to the challenge of helping to make such decisions.
In that regard, councilmember Roberts filed for re-election Monday morning, as did Homer businessman and current member of the Homer Economic Development Advisory Commission, Kevin Hogan.
As new candidates file, City Elections Clerk Melissa Jacobsen said the information will be posted on the city’s Web site at www.ci.homer.ak.us.
Voters will also be asked to decide several ballot propositions, including the much-debated local question of whether or not to extend the seasonal sales tax exemption. The Homer City Council will be approving the wording on this ballot proposition in the next meeting.
On the borough level, voters likely will be asked if they favor a manager form of government, which would replace the current strong mayor form of borough government. However, a measure before the Borough Assembly has asked that this proposition be reconsidered, so its future on the ballot remains uncertain until after this week’s Tuesday night meeting. The assembly was split on the matter, voting 5-4 at its last meeting in favor of posing the question to voters on the October ballot.
Another measure will ask voters on the Central Peninsula to approve a $25-million bond package to build a multi-use facility. It will not appear on Homer or Seward ballots as it will not impact those communities.
Borough Clerk Johnni Blankenship is finishing up certifications on signatures gathered by the Alliance of Concerned Taxpayers asking voters to affirm term limits. Presently, a law codified by the borough enforces term limits on anyone who has served two terms. At the end of two terms, they must sit out one term before they can run for election again, said ACT President Mike McBride.
This effort is meant to ensure Borough Assembly term limits approved by voters in 2007 will remain valid through the 2011 municipal election, McBride said in a press release.
ACT submitted 140 petition booklets with 2,764 signatures to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Clerk, completing the initiative drive in 26 days.
If term limits are once again approved by the voters, the Borough Assembly can’t repeal or adjust the length of terms for two more years. Under state law, a voter-sponsored initiative can be overturned or amended after two years.
“Persistent rumors that the Borough Assembly was going to either repeal or drastically amend the term limits approved by voters in 2007, when the protection provided by State Statutes ended, prompted ACT to begin the latest petition drive,” ACT’s release reads. “Current Assembly President Milli Martin has since confirmed that a plan was in the works to amend the term limit law voters approved in 2007.”
Previous voter-approved term limits were repealed by the Borough Assembly in 1999. The 1999 ordinance to repeal term limits was introduced by Assembly Member Pete Sprague, who has remained seated as a result of that Assembly action ever since, according to ACT. If voters approve term limits again in October, Sprague –  who was first elected in 1998 – will be limited out in 2010 after 12 years on the assembly.
“Good government can only happen when more people are involved in the process. Fresh ideas and new eyes looking at the problems,” said Jim Mellott, the initiative’s prime sponsor.

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Posted by on Aug 6th, 2009 and filed under Headline News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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