Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 3:39 PM on Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Navarre leads in mayor's race

Of 7,613 votes cast, Navarre has 3,923 to Sturman's 3,690

Morris News Service - Alaska


With 26 of 27 precincts in the Kenai Peninsula Borough reporting, Mike Navarre holds the lead in the mayoral runoff with Fred Sturman. Of the 7,613 votes cast in Tuesday's election, Navarre took 3,923 or 51.53 percent while Sturman took 3,690 or 48.47 percent.

With 1,500-2,000 absentee and questioned ballots still to be counted, Navarre and Sturman will have to wait a few more days, and maybe as long as a week, before knowing for sure who will take the seat as the next borough mayor.

"I wouldn't call it," said borough clerk Johni Blankenship said.

Sturman won in the Sterling, Salamatof, Ninilchik, Nikiski, Kasilof, Funny River, Central and Anchor Point precincts.

Navarre won in the Tyonek, Soldotna, Seward, Seldovia, Moose Pass, Mackey Lake, Kenai, Kalifornsky Beach, Kachemak City/Fritz Creek, Kachemak Bay, Hope, Homer, Diamond Ridge, Cooper Landing and Bear Creek precincts.

Navarre said he was in a good position to take the race.

"I have been in a lot of campaigns and it is much better to be ahead at this point than behind," he said. "Obviously it is too close to call and we have to see what happens with the absentee votes, but I feel pretty good."

Sturman said he had "no idea" how the final results would shake out.

"Your guess is as good as mine," he said.

Blankenship said a final tally would be available by Nov. 1, when the borough is required to certify the election results.

Milli Martin of Homer, a former school board and borough assembly member, has supported Navarre in his campaign for mayor since Navarre entered the race in July.

"He's hedging his bets because the lead is slim and there's still votes out there, but his vote is that it will fall as it traditionally does and go the way the election has gone," said Martin after speaking with Navarre Tuesday evening. "In any case, I'm thrilled. I think about the (natural) gas line and he's our best hope of getting the gas line down here."

Brad Faulkner, a former Homer fish broker who supported Sturman, said he wasn't surprised by the close race. That Sturman did so well should send a message to Navarre.

"To squeak through as he did in the general election, it should be a wake-up call for him where the electorate's at," Faulkner said of Navarre.

Peninsula residents are frustrated by high taxes and spending, Faulkner said.

"I'm disappointed Fred didn't win," he said. "He would've done us a good job and been somewhat more fiscally restrained."

Sturman said he knew it was going to be a tough fight.

"I kind of figured it was going to be a pretty dog gone tight race because he has been around in areas longer than I have and I knew he was strong in Seward and Kenai," he said. "In the main cities he was a lot stronger than I was and I knew I had to get the outside communities and we pretty well got our own areas."

Navarre agreed, but added that "quite frankly I didn't think it would have been this close."

"It was really tough to get a feel for it," he said. "Part of it was just depending on the turnout and some areas had pretty good turnout and some areas had pretty bad turnout."

Sturman and Navarre both agreed whatever the final result, they would both have a long conversation and share "campaign stories and what each thinks the direction the borough should go in is," Navarre said.

"I just talked to Mike and we congratulated each other for running a good clean race and as soon as we get the signs all gathered up we'll clean up in the next two or three days and we are going to sit down and have a cup of coffee and talk about the race," Sturman said.

Both candidates said they were impressed with the tenor of the campaign season.

"We talked during the course of the campaign and decided that whoever won we were going to sit down and talk with each other," Navarre said, also thanking those who contributed to his campaign. "It was a good friendly campaign. No negative to it at all. I appreciate that and I know that Fred did too."

Said Sturman, "We pretty well agree that however it come out we would work together and we would try and help each other to make this a better community."

Brian Smith is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion. Michael Armstrong and McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News staff writers, also contributed to the story.