Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 3:39 PM on Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Borough mayor's race adds contender

Long drops out, to back Navarre

By Brian Smith and McKibben Jackinsky
Morris News Service


Former borough mayor and legislator Mike Navarre is the newest candidate to enter the race for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor. Navarre made the announcement Tuesday, at the same time Ron Long of Seward announced his withdrawal from the race, giving his support to Navarre.

Navarre served as borough mayor from 1996-1997, a position currently held by David C. Carey, who is not seeking re-election. Other candidates include Dale Bagley of Soldotna, Debbie Holle Brown of Kasilof, Fred Sturman of Kenai, and Gary Superman of Nikiski.

The 55-year-old Navarre, who lives in the Kalifornsky Beach area, said he had contemplated running for "quite some time."

"I've been through the soul searching that comes along with any political endeavor where you are putting yourself out in front of the public open to criticism and seeking their support to trust you with the responsibility that goes along with being mayor," he said.

Navarre was elected to the Alaska Legislature when he was 28. He served 12 years before leaving to run for borough mayor. He served a three-year term as mayor, losing a bid for re-election in 1999 to Bagley.

"I'm not running against any candidate," Navarre said.

"I'm running because I think that I have the best mix of experience, management style, education, community involvement. And, I think support, but obviously that's a decision that is going to be left up to the voters."

One of the biggest issues facing the new borough mayor is the future of the Central Peninsula Hospital and health care on the peninsula, said Navarre, who served on the Central Peninsula General Hospital Inc. board for six months.

Navarre said he would focus on strategic planning borough-wide to determine "where the dollars are being spent and why." He wants to craft a budget that takes into account trends in the fund balance and population growth while "building public confidence in what's happening with the decisions that are being made on their behalf by their elected officials."

Long's decision to withdraw from the race came after weekend meetings with Navarre, weighing the merits of each campaign and the liability of continuing to seek election.

"The last thing I want to do is split the vote and make it easier for one of the others candidates to win," Long told the Homer News on Tuesday.

The Seward resident served in the borough assembly from 2000-2009, acting as president the last two years of his term. In 2005, he was named "Elected Official of the Year" by the Alaska Municipal League. For 18 years, he has owned and operated a marine survey and consultant business. Most recently, he has been the operations manager for Major Marine Tours.

"I think I could have been a good mayor or I wouldn't have thrown my hat in the ring," said Long. "Now that Mike is (running) I have to look at what was a long shot that has now become almost unrealistic"

Unrealistic because "there's not enough support and money and resources to run an effective campaign in that big a field, especially when enough of us share a significant philosophy without taking the risk of splitting the vote," said Long.

Long believes he and Navarre have a similar approach to stabilizing the borough's economic situation, managing increasing health care costs and concerns for managing and operating borough hospitals.

After declaring his candidacy in March, Long began delegating his managerial responsibilities at Major Marine Tours. Ending his campaign won't change that.

"It would be unfair of me to say, 'Oh, gee, sorry. I've changed my mind.' I'm transitioning out and allowing that to proceed along the trajectory we set several months ago," said Long.

Asked about his plans for the future, Long said, "After having a full 12 hours to think about it? I'm not quite sure. ... I'm pretty confident I'll find something to do that will keep me productive."

R: Municipal ballot borough, city candidates, propositions

By McKibben Jackinsky

Staff writer

In addition to the five borough mayor candidates, the Oct. 4 municipal election the following races impacting the southern peninsula:

• Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, district 8, city of Homer, a three-year term, currently held by Bill Smith;

• Anchor Point Fire Service Area Board, seats A and E, each three-year terms; seat B, a two-year term; seat D, a one-year term;

• Kachemak Emergency Service Area Board, seat A, a three-year term;

South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area Board, seat C, a one-year term; seats D, E and F, each three-year terms; seat G, a 2-year term;

• Two propositions: repeal of the borough seasonal exemption from sales tax of non-prepared food items and increasing the borough sales tax from 3.0 percent to 3.1 percent with the additional 0.1 percent to be used for economic development purposes, and repealing the 60 percent voter approval requirements to increase the sales tax rate.

The city of Homer ballot includes races for two city council seats currently held by Barbara Howard and David Lewis. There are no city propositions, according to Jo Johnson, city clerk.

Kachemak City's ballot also will include two council seats. They are currently held by Tammy Ackerman and Phil Morris, the city mayor. One proposition will be on the ballot, asking voters to increase the rate of real property tax by one mill. That increase, if approved, would help finance a natural gas distribution system in the city after if and when a pipeline is constructed to deliver natural gas to the area from wells near Anchor Point.

Declarations for candidacy will be accepted:

• By the Kenai Peninsula Borough Clerk's office beginning 8 a.m. Aug. 1 through 4 p.m. Aug. 14; for more information, call 1-800-478-4441, ext. 2160;

• By the Homer City Clerk's office beginning at 8 a.m. Aug. 1-5 p.m. Aug. 15; for more information, call 235-3130;

• By Kachemak City Clerk at a date to be determined, call 235-8897.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.