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Razor-thin margin in mayoral runoff: six-tenths of 1 percent

Residents of the Kenai Peninsula Borough are waiting for the mailman to help sort out whether Charlie Pierce or Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings will be the new borough mayor.

Any qualified absentee ballots postmarked by last Tuesday (Oct. 24) that arrive at the borough building in the mail today or tomorrow are eligible to be added to the final tally of votes in the runoff election for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor.

Only then can the final results be presented for certification to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. That will happen at its Tuesday night meeting, according to Borough Clerk Johni Blankenship.

"We will transfer any ballots that come in the mail to the canvass board. They will review those for eligibility. If anything is valid, they will run, or count, those," she said. "And we will present a resolution with the election results to the Assembly for consideration to certify the election."

On Friday, the canvass board counted 1,651 absentee ballots, with Farnsworth-Hutchings taking 54 percent, reducing the 223-vote lead Pierce has held since polls closed Tuesday night, to 51 votes.

Blankenship says runoff elections don't usually attract as many absentee ballots as this one has.

"The runoff is, as far as the number of absentees, both in-person and by mail, this particular runoff has been standard to a regular election. So it's pretty high for a runoff election," she said. "The last election we had on Oct. 3, the absentees, the number there was unprecedented. It was 3,000 - over 3,000."

So until the mailman arrives, Pierce has 4,296 votes to Farnsworth-Hutchings' 4,245, a difference of 51 votes, or six-tenths of one percent of the votes cast in the runoff election.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting is at 7 p.m. Tuesday night (Oct. 31), and will be broadcast live here on public radio KDLL.

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