KENAI — Peter Micciche is the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s new mayor following certification of the Feb. 14, 2023, special election results by the borough assembly on Tuesday.
Micciche clinched 51.6% of the more than 7,000 votes cast during the special election last week, meaning the borough can forgo a runoff election that was scheduled to take place, if needed, next month.
Kenai Peninsula Borough code requires mayors to be elected with a majority of votes cast. Only if no candidate receives a majority of votes — more than 50% — do the top two vote-getters advance to a runoff election, which the borough assembly scheduled, if needed, for March 7.
Micciche during Tuesday’s Assembly meeting told Assembly members that he is looking forward to working with them and thanked the borough clerk’s office for their work on the election.
“What I remembered watching all of you tonight, as you discussed the issues that came up was that feeling in your stomach when it’s time for a vote and you know you’re affecting someone’s life,” Micciche told assembly members. “It happens just as often locally as it does on the state level. It’s not a good feeling, but the reason you have that feeling is because you care.”
The second-highest vote getter, Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings, received 1,418 votes — about 20% of all cast. She was followed by write-in candidate Robert Wall, who registered as a candidate just two weeks before election day and received 12.1% of all votes cast. Dave Carey received about 11% of all votes cast and Zachary Hamilton received about 4.7% of all votes cast in the election.
Micciche emerged with a narrow lead after the first round of election results published last week. About 5,000 Kenai Peninsula Borough voters cast ballots in person, however the borough has spent the days since counting more than 1,700 absentee ballots that had also come in.
Micciche, a former Alaska State senator and mayor of Soldotna, will serve an abbreviated term that expires in October. Micciche has previously stated that he also plans to seek election for a full term as mayor. He will succeed Mike Navarre, who was appointed last year to take over for Charlie Pierce, who resigned amid allegations of harassment.
Navarre, a two-time former borough mayor, was presented with legislation during Tuesday’s meeting commending him for his service since he was appointed last October. Navarre during Tuesday’s meeting thanked borough staff, to whom he attributed his success while interim mayor.
“The secret to my success is having good people around me and certainly with respect to the employees, particularly the directors at the Kenai Peninsula Borough, we are very well served and it was a great pleasure,” Navarre said. “So thank you.”