4 candidates file to replace Charlie Pierce as Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor

the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly chambers
The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly approved a Feb. 14, 2023 mayoral special election date, with the potential for a March 7 runoff. (Sabine Poux/KDLL)

Wednesday was the last day for candidates to file for the special election for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor, to fill out the remainder of former Mayor Charlie Pierce’s second term.

Pierce, a Republican, ran for governor this year, challenging reelected GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy. Pierce resigned as mayor in August, shortly before allegations of sexual harassment from his former assistant at the borough torpedoed his campaign. His running mate, Edie Grunwald, abandoned his ticket. Pierce ultimately garnered just 4.5% of the vote.

As of Wednesday evening, four Kenai mayoral candidates were listed on the borough website, including the president of the Alaska Senate. Here are the candidates:

• Former mayor Dave Carey is a retired teacher, sits on the Soldotna City Council and was borough mayor from 2008 to 2011.

• Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings is a member of the Soldotna City Council and accountant for Hutchings Auto Group. She ran against Pierce for the seat twice.

• Zachary Hamilton is an Air Force veteran and two-year borough resident, by way of South Dakota, Texas and Michigan. He co-owns and operates Brothers’ Cafe in Kenai.

• Soldotna Republican state Sen. Peter Micciche. Micciche previously served as mayor of the City of Soldotna and is currently president of the Alaska Senate.

The borough is holding a special election for the mayoral seat on Feb. 14. The winner of that election will fill the remainder of Pierce’s term in office, through October 2023. Interim Mayor Mike Navarre is currently holding that seat, though he’s said he does not plan to run in the special election.

Borough code requires a candidate to get 50% of the vote, plus one, to win. If one candidate doesn’t get that majority, the election will go to a March 7 run-off.

Correction: This article has been corrected to reflect that Sen. Peter Micciche is president of the Alaska Senate until the new state Senate is sworn in.

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