The Oct. 3 regular municipal election didn't settle the race for who will be the next Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor, and it appears Tuesday’s runoff will come down to absentee votes before a winner is known. With all 28 precincts reporting, Charlie Pierce held a 226 vote lead over Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings.
Pierce received 3,509 votes to Farnsworth-Hutchings' 3,283.
In-person voting dropped by about 53 percent between the regular and runoff elections, with only 6,792 voters turning out. If that trend holds true for absentee ballots, it would mean about 1,268 votes left to count.
During the regular municipal election, Farnsworth-Hutchings out-polled Pierce among absentee voters by 41 votes out of 2,698 cast, or 35 to 33 percent. The votes then were also shared with third-place candidate Dale Bagley.
“Cautiously optimistic," is how Farnsworth-Hutchings described the mood as she and her team had a late dinner Tuesday night after the polls closed.
With a slim three-percentage-point lead, Pierce said he was ready to be the next mayor.
“I was in it to win it, and all it takes is one vote and I’ll take that one vote more than she can garner and I’ll serve as the mayor and I’ll be honored to do it," Pierce said.