There’s another hat — sort of — in the ring for the Kenai seat on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education.
Kenai’s Hal Smalley, who has served in the state Legislature, Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly and Kenai City Council, says he’s agreed to a write-in campaign.
“A couple weeks ago I was asked by some folks if they could put me as a write-in, they said because there was a lack of choice for the school board. They weren’t happy with what was there,” Smalley said. “And I said, ‘Sure, that’s fine.’ And they said, ‘Well, if you were elected, would you serve?’ And I said, ‘Well, by all means, I would.’”
Smalley is retired from a career in education. He was a guidance counselor and language arts teacher in Ninilchik starting in 1976 and finished his career teaching English at Kenai Central High School. He volunteers for the breakfast program at Kenai Alternative School, as well as at the food bank, and serves on the Kenai Peninsula College Council. He says he’s enjoying doing what he likes in retirement but is willing to be conscripted back into public service.
“I’m sort of a, I guess, somewhat declared write-in candidate. But, again, I’m not campaigning. It’s a very long shot,” he said.
The District 2 seat is held by Matthew Morse, who is running for re-election. He’s been on the board since 2018. He said, when he first ran, his concerns were budgetary.
“In the event that funding becomes more of an issue than it has been and we have to make cuts. We want data to inform those decisions, right?” Morse said.
Morse attended KCHS — where he was one of Smalley’s students. He works at his family business, a recruiting and staffing firm in Soldotna.
In the last year, Morse has been outspoken about wanting the district to loosen COVID-19 mitigation protocols, like masking.
“I don’t think people are happy with the (mitigation) plan that we have again this year,” he said. “I think they started out being happy with it, when we said we weren’t going to require masks and things like that. But obviously, that hasn’t held true.”
Smalley says he thinks the district will end up having to enact a mask policy, given Alaska’s and the peninsula’s high rate of covid cases.
“Because our numbers, I mean, we’re leading the country. Those are some real serious implications there,” Smalley said. “I’m concerned about the safety of students and staff and the ability to deliver a quality education, you know, consistent and quality.”
The municipal election is Tuesday, Oct. 5. Early voting is available Monday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Kenai City Hall, as well as the clerk’s office at the Borough Building in Soldotna.