On Tuesday October 7, voters will be going to the polls in many parts of the state to vote in local elections from Ketchikan to Barrow. In some locales, voters will be voting for municipal and borough officials. In some areas there are more uncontested races than contested ones. There’s also ballot propositions, some advisory and others the real deal, and citizen initiatives too.
But probably the biggest races are the mayoral races, and the biggest of those that I feel comfortable writing about are in the City of Wasilla, North Slope Borough and the Kenai Borough. Here’s a rundown of the three.
City of Wasilla
In the City of Wasilla, Bert Cottle and Loren Means will both be vying for the mayor’s seat being vacated by Vern Rupright who is running for the state Legislature.
Cottle is currently the deputy administrator city manager of Wasilla and has previously served as the mayor of Valdez. In 2012, he ran unsuccessfully for the state Legislature from Valdez before returning back to the Valley where he was raised and still has family. Cottle is being endorsed by current mayor Rupright. He is known to be a good, steady public servant. If not a little dry, he’s at least well known, and comes from a family that’s been around those parts for a long time.
Wasilla wouldn’t be Wasilla without some color: enter Means. He is a local contractor and serves on the city planning commission. This is his first bid for elected office. Recently, an email chain passed through the tubes that relayed a conversation that Means had with the city’s police chief about stalking some Las Vegas cops in the 1980s with a deer rifle. In another conversation with the chief, Means supposedly talked about anarchy, guns and the possibility of shutting the government down and something else to do with a crowded theater. The chief reported him supposedly at Rupright’s suggestion, to Homeland Security, which likely won’t hurt his run.
More to the point: One of the major issues in this mayoral race is a proposed ban on ATVs in the city limits of Wasilla. Cottle supports the proposal and Means opposes it. Escalating water and sewer rates are also issues on the voters’ minds.
Prediction: Tossup leaning Cottle.
North Slope Borough
Former NSB Mayor George Ahmaogak is challenging the incumbent Charlotte Brower. These same two candidates ran against each other three years ago in what was a very close race that resulted in a recount before certifying the election. Since that time, the former mayor’s wife, Maggie, was convicted of a felony for embezzling funds from the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission and has been serving her sentence in the Lower 48. Both candidates have been traveling to the villages and hosting campaign events. Brower has raised $65,543 for her race. Ahmaogak has raised $19,159.
North Slope officials walk a fine line between trying to manage business interests and sensitivity to culture. Offshore oil development is just over the horizon. If it does happen, it will transform the borough. Brower appears to understand the changes at the area’s doorstep, and appears to have done a good job of trying to prepare the borough for those changes.
Prediction: Brower gets reelected.
The Kenai Borough mayor’s race is a three way race with challengers Tom Bearup and Carrol Martin challenging incumbent mayor Mike Navarre.
The race though appears to be between Bearup and Navarre, both of whom appear to be completely opposite kinds of candidates. Navarre has a long history in the area as a businessman and legislator from 1984-1996. He’s known as a moderate and has wide respect throughout the community. He’s raised about $31,000.
Like Wasilla, the Kenai wouldn’t be the Kenai without some color: enter Tom Bearup. He’s got a long, tangled history that involves a firing from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, a few runs at elected office in Arizona, where he has been an off-and-on again resident all of his life, and where he literally ‘aired his dirty laundry’ by hanging his underwear on a clothes line. He was the executive assistant to Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Now he runs ministry in the Kenai that feeds people and provides housing when needed, and he can be oddly charming and charismatic. According to APOC, Bearup raised about $36,000, however about $15,000 of that is his own money.
The issues in the Kenai appear to center on preparing for potential natural gas pipeline, taxes, healthcare and education. Read more here.
Prediction: Nararre gets relected.
Contact Amanda Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org