Micciche wins Senate seat – Seaton keeps House seat – Prop 2 fails
• Measure 2 voted down by narrow margin, Measure 1 passes
By Naomi Klouda
The unofficial election results are in, showing that Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche raced well ahead of incumbent Sen. Tom Wagoner to claim the decade-long held seat.
Rep. Paul Seaton, who has held his Alaska House seat for 10 years, prevailed by a mere 282 votes over challenger Jon Faulkner.
The contentious Measure Two, advocating to restore the Coastal Zone Management Program, failed statewide by a broad jump of 61.84 percent against. Only 38.16 percent of Alaska voters wanted to restore it. But in District 30, ‘yes’ voters trailed behind the ‘no’ people by only 180 voters in a tally of 2,123 against with 1,943 in favor.
Ballot Measure One, asking voters if they would agree to raising the exemption on property taxes from $30,000 to $50,000, passed in a vote of 2,312 to 1,747. This affirmative vote doesn’t guarantee raising the exemption, thus lowering the tax, but it does give the option to the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
Newly elected Sen. Peter Micciche will be sworn into office in January.
About 300 absentee ballots were applied for in the borough, which means there isn’t likely to be a potential for change in the outcome as the official count is tallied, said Homer City Clerk Jo Johnson.
Micciche, running on two hours of sleep Wednesday morning after the election as his phone rang with well-wishers, expressed gratitude for all the help. He dominated in every precinct in both districts forming Senate District O from Seward to Seldovia.
“I am humbled by the amount of support. What I have to say is we couldn’t have succeeded without the dedication of hundreds from Seward to Seldovia and especially not without my wife Erin and three daughters,” he said.
Sen. Tom Wagoner served the district for 10 years.
He expressed his appreciation for many years of service by Sen. Wagoner. “He served honorably and did the best he could for District O. I think change is healthy, but that his work should be recognized and appreciated.”
Wagoner didn’t express too much disappointment in the election’s outcome. “This wasn’t my first rodeo. My wife and I had a good talk last night and we figured last night was the first day of the rest our lives and we’re going to enjoy it.”
Democratic challenger Liz Diament runs against Republican Paul Seaton in the November General Election
They are planning on driving to Fairbanks to visit their grandson who just started at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Meanwhile, Wagoner’s legislative offices will remain open through Jan. 15, since he is still technically in office until then.
“I’ve done good things for Cook Inlet and the rest of Alaska. I can look at those things and be happy with what we’ve accomplished,” Wagoner said, speaking of his work in new oil and gas production that spurred him to Juneau 10 years ago.
That Micciche out-raised the incumbent was something of a surprise, raising $30,010 to Wagoner’s $17,000.
“I don’t have a lot of experience in running a race and thought we would be outperformed in contributions. But when it came in primarily from families on the Peninsula, I had hoped it would translate and it did,” Micciche said.
Perhaps the single-most decisive issue brought out in the race, to Micciche’s mind, was the necessity of change.
“I don’t believe in the philosophy that ‘things are just the way they are.’ I’m hopeful that we can work together with a different philosophy in the legislature to get the state moving again. Sen. Wagoner’s message was one of a frustrated and dysfunctional Senate.”
Given Micciche’s 27-year affiliation with ConocoPhillips, he was questioned about how that would impact his actions in Juneau. Will he advocate for oil company priorities?
“Everyone in Juneau has another line of business. People trust that this is what I do and they can go by my record in the past and (will go) by my record in the Senate,” Micciche said. “I’m taking an oath for the people of Alaska and that always comes first. My philosophy is somewhat counter to the industry’s philosophy. I believe in responsible development. I don’t believe in exchanging a renewable resource for a non-renewable one.”
Moving forward, Micciche wants to get the message out he’s “there for the people of the southern peninsula and in fact wants his cell phone number, 252-6759, published.
In District 30, the fight was on between incumbent Paul Seaton and businessman Jon Faulkner for the Republican primary. Democrat Liz Diament, who garnered 786 votes, faces off against Seaton in the Nov. 6 General Election.
In this race, the big money-raiser, Faulkner at $22,336 in donations, didn’t trump over Seaton’s $17,823.
“It was a hard campaign. Jon ran an aggressive campaign. I’m happy the people who knew me trusted me to send me to Juneau,” Seaton said. “I focused on fiscal responsibility, not giving away the farm. That was the biggest issue the last two years. We definitely need to get something if we change our tax base.”
Rep. Paul Seaton speaks to constituent at the end of a public debate at Kachemak City Community Hall Aug. 29.
Seaton felt it showed in the voting booths that people appreciated his work on the Homer Area Natural Gasline. “It took a lot of hard work to get it there and we wouldn’t have it if we didn’t get the state contribution. That will be a huge factor. There was a real broad diversity of issues that we concentrated on for what I’ve done and supported.”
Faulkner’s trailing of only 284 votes behind Seaton means it was a close call. Faulkner dominated in five precincts, all but one newly drawn in redistricting. Funny River 1 and 2, Ninilchik, Kasilof and the Fox River Valley precincts gave Faulkner higher numbers.
Jon Faulkner receives a hug from a campaign fan.
“I’m doing great,” Faulkner said Wednesday morning. “I started the race with three objectives: to strengthen the Republican Party in the southern Peninsula, to expose Paul’s voting record and I wanted to win. I accomplished two of my three objectives.”
The campaign energized Faulkner, a long-time owner of Land’s End and two other Peninsula hotels, who pointed to his business success and economic development insights. It also energized citizens who attached themselves to his campaign.
“It energized me and a lot of other people to be engaged. I’ll be involved in local politics in some way,” he said.
Between Diament and Faulkner’s votes, Seaton didn’t convince the majority of District 30’s constituents that he is on the right path in his Juneau work.
“No one has a lock on serving the constituents of this district. North of here, there are a lot people who need work. Paul’s not paying attention to what’s puts people to work,” Faulkner said.
The race helped Faulkner hone his voice and message for future public service, he feels. “I will be involved.”