By Naomi Klouda
Voter turnout was reported at a low 18 percent in Homer, but Kenai Peninsula Borough Assemblyman Mako Haggerty retained his assembly seat by a popular 62 percent, beating Anchor Point businessman Jesse Clutts in a 429 to 263 spread.
The borough voter turnout was even lower than city races, at 13.6 percent.
A short 13 votes made the difference in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board seat, narrowly retained by Liz Downing against challenger Mike Illg in a 451 to 438 count, making that race too soon to call. The Homer City Clerk’s office reported 131 outstanding absentee and question ballots. Those will be counted by the Canvas Board on Friday.
Voters in Homer overwhelmingly favored Homer City Council member Beth Wythe by 60 percent to become Homer’s new mayor. Wythe, the longest serving city council member has served since 2004.
Councilman Bryan Zak, the director of Small Business Development Center for the Southcentral Region and a city councilman since 2008, made a good showing with 305 votes to Wythe’s 471.
The Homer City Council race gave voters a choice of three people for two council seats, incumbents Francie Roberts and Beau Burgess, with challenger James Dolma. All gained a good share of the the 809 voters who turned out to cast ballots but Roberts proved the favorite at 324 votes. Burgess, a newcomer to the council since his appointment in April, retained his seat by 242 votes to Dolma’s 226 votes. That 16 votes likely could make a difference in a third city council seat now open, left vacant for Wythe to assume her role of mayor. The council could decide to appoint Dolma, but first would go through an application process open to the public. The council would then be charged with making an appointment to fill Wythe’s seat for one year, the remainder of her term.
Wythe expressed happiness at her win and readiness to get to work. She felt a broad cross section of voters turned out in her favor and didn’t look to any particular block as her backers.
“Now is when the work begins,” she said. “I don’t think it was related to any single issue of what is going on. It’s just generally the support of the community.”
The election results become official on Oct. 22, when new members are sworn in.
The Southern Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Board Area voters placed Ryan Ridge in Seat G, Christine Griffard in Seat B and Jacque Lenew in Seat A. Each of those seats went unchallenged.
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