Story last updated at 2:40 p.m. Thursday, October 3, 2002

Voters 'stay the course'

Incumbents returned to city council seats

by Carey James
Staff Writer

photo: election2002

  Photo by Carey James, Homer News
Laurie and John Glanville cast their votes Tuesday at the Legislative Information Office on the Sterling Highway. About 23 percent of Homer-area voters turned out for the municipal election.  
With most of the ballots tallied, Homer voters sent all but one of the incumbent city officials back to work Tuesday, while electing two new members: Rose Beck and Doug Stark.

As part of an annexation promise, nearly the entire city council, as well as the mayor, threw their names back in the election hat to allow people from the recently annexed terrain to run for office. John Fenske was the only council member who chose to serve out the remainder of his original term, while Kurt Marquardt, whose term had expired, chose not to run for re-election.

With five council seats and the mayor's race open, the election ballot swelled to include 15 members. In the end, however, most of the incumbents were re-elected, including Mayor Jack Cushing, Mike Yourkowski, Rick Ladd and Ray Kranich.

Cushing defeated former mayor Harry Gregoire, who took 40.25 percent of the vote.

Councilwoman Pat Cue was the only council member voted out of office. Cue was replaced by Stark, the only candidate elected from the annexed area. Stark took 48.4 percent of the vote, while Cue took 39.92. Conley Croom polled 10.92 percent.

Stark, elected to a two-year seat on the council, said he believes he can help mend the tension caused by annexation, as well as bring a new voice for the people.

"I think we are going to have activity that comes from the citizens up instead of from the top down," he said. "I think the council is going to change markedly because of the new members. A lot of things that could have happened will happen, and a lot things that did happen won't happen.

The other new face on the city council is Beck, who won the largest percentage of votes -- 61.12 percent -- in the election for one of two three-year seats. Yourkowski earned the second three-year seat with 54.26 percent of the votes.

Beck said she has spent the past few weeks meeting with those involved with various projects and issues pertinent to the city, and believes she is well on her way to becoming an informed councilwoman.

"I feel honored to be given the responsibility to be a voice for the people," she said. "It's a responsibility I take very seriously."

Beck, a clinical social worker, said she hopes to bring added cohesion to the group and help find solutions to conflicts. She said she is surprised to have received such a large percentage of the votes and thanked voters for their support.

Of the remaining three candidates for the three-year seat, Stan Welles polled 40.24 percent, Charles Davis Jr. garnered 22.79 percent of the votes, and Gil Mayforth took 20.98 percent.

For the council's two one-year seats, voters re-elected Ladd and Kranich over candidates Alex Clark, Doris Cabana and Hank Boelter.

Ladd said the re-election was a boost of confidence in what he and other council members have been doing, and provides motivation to push forward on the many issues the council will face in coming months. Ladd said he will continue to work on completing a survey of city residents before the city's budget is finalized. He said he hopes to move forward with the city library and animal shelter projects.

"I just really feel honored to be privileged to come back and continue working for the city," he said. "(The vote) means the city trusts me, and it means I have to work that much harder to continue to earn their trust."

Carey James can be reached at cjames@homer