Voters in the central Kenai Peninsula are returning a solidly Republican delegation to Juneau.
In the Senate District O race, incumbent Peter Micciche was victorious against two write-in candidates, including Ron Gillham, the primary challenger who nearly unseated him in August. Just before the election, Micciche said he learned a lot about his constuency from the primaries.
“Public meetings aren’t working. Newsletters aren’t working. How do I get them to come up to me and say ‘Micciche, I’m mad and this is why’ and have that conversation in small groups or with individuals. Because there’s clearly a group of people who are unhappy with my performance. I think if we can have those conversations, we can understand each other; how things are in Juneau versus the impacts at home and how we can find solutions that make them feel more represented.”
In the state house District 29 race, despite being out-raised and out-spent by a significant margin, Republican Ben Carpenter defeated Independent candidate Shawn Butler 71 percent to 29 percent. Late Tuesday, Carpenter was watching returns come in at home in Nikiski.
“I’m not entirely sure that there’s any specific message other than this is a very conservative district. People, by and large, are limited government, low tax people. That was a consistent message that I had. My opponent didn’t have the same message. So, I just think it was the right message for the right crowd.”
In House District 30, incumbent Gary Knopp ran unopposed and won with 94 percent of the vote.
In House 31, from South Soldotna to Homer, Republican Sarah Vance defeated Independent, and former Republican incumbent, Paul Seaton by about 1,350 votes.
In District 30, the Kenai-Soldotna area, Ballot Measure 1, Stand for Salmon, was trounced with 4,700 no votes to just 1,450 yes. Outside money came into that race to try and influence voters, but grassroots efforts were strong as well. Kaitlin Vadla, a community organizer for Cook Inlet Keeper, says she's hopeful the attention paid to habitat issues during the campaign will spur action in the legislature.
“We were really happy for the opportunity to work on something like this that elevates the conversation about how we protect salmon habitat and what we do up here in Alaska to make sure that we don’t the same mistakes as the places in the Lower 48 that don’t have salmon anymore. Looking forward, there’s lots to talk about (regarding) how we do things right up here.”
The district's vote on governor was almost identical in scope, with Dunleavy taking 4,380 to Begich's 1,682. The legislature convenes on January 15th.