Story last updated at 3:21 p.m. Friday, August 9, 2002

Candidate pool growing for city council races
by Carey James
Staff Writer

If no one else signs up to run in the upcoming City of Homer election, the council table will look significantly different this fall.

By default, Harry Gregoire would be mayor, Rose Beck and Charles Davis Jr. would each have three-year terms, and incumbents Rick Ladd and Ray Kranich would stay on the council at least one year longer.

The only contested seat at this point is the single two-year seat, which both Conley Croom and Doug Stark have filed for.

But according to city Clerk Mary Calhoun, it's unlikely the list of candidates will remain as it is now.

"People like to wait up till five minutes before closing (to sign up as candidates)," Calhoun said, adding that candidates are put on the ballot in the order they sign up, so submitting their bid for elected office early would seem to be advantageous. Tradition-ally, however, many candidates wait.

Calhoun said the number of seats this year up for election -- five council seats as well as the mayor's seat -- is unusual, but so far, the number of people filing is not.

"This is about par for the course," she said.

Typically, only two terms expire per year, forcing candidates to rerun if they choose. But this year, three of the six council members chose to add their seats to the election contest as a result of annexation. In addition, Councilman Kurt Marquardt and Councilwoman Pat Cue's terms expired this year. The mayor's two-year term also expired this year. Councilman John Fenske elected to retain his seat. The council members reserved the right to run for re-election, but made it clear they wanted candidates from the annexed area to have an equal shot at representation. The city also passed a resolution to that end to clarify the city attorney's legal opinion that citizens living in the newly annexed area would be able to run for city office despite the fact that the land had not been part of the city for a year. During the annexation debate this winter, some questioned whether the one-year residency requirement would limit candidates from the 4.6 square miles of annexed area.

So far, however, those living in the annexed area haven't been lining up to run for city seats. Only one council candidate, Skyline Drive resident Doug Stark, lives on the newly annexed terrain.

Stark attempted to run for a Kenai Peninsula Borough seat in 2000, but later discovered his property was a few hundred yards outside the district of the seat he had planned to run for.

Gregoire returns to challenge Jack Cushing again this year after an unsuccessful bid for the mayor's seat in 1998 and again in 2000. Gregoire, now 82, was the mayor of Homer for two terms starting in 1990. He also had an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic Party nomination to run for the Alaska House from District 7.

While several candidates have said they are undecided about whether to run for re-election, Calhoun said, incumbents historically have been known to change their minds about running at the last minute.

Candidates have until Thursday, Aug. 15, at 5 p.m. to sign up at the city clerk's office for a seat.