Out-going Mayor reflects on run-off elections

Oct 5, 2017

The Kenai Peninsula Borough mayoral race will be going to a runoff later this month, with none of the three candidates scoring 50-percent or more of the vote.

A run-off is something that out-going Mayor Mike Navarre has experience with, and they're not necessarily happy memories. He was a popular mayor from 1996 to 1999 after serving three terms in the Alaska 

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre
Credit Kenai Peninsula Borough

  Legislature, and even though he received the most votes by sizable margin, he was forced into a run-off, and lost to Dale Bagley.

"In the election, the regular election of 1999, I had almost 47 percent of the vote; Dale had under 30; there were five candidates I think in that race, and you know, people thought that I'd win the run-off," Navarre said. "And run-offs are different animals, and Dale beat me by a little bit and he got to be the mayor for the next six years."

Navarre made his comments on KDLL's Kenai Conversation Wednesday morning. He said a run-off will likely have a lower turn out, something his Chief of Staff, Larry Persily agreed with.

"There'll be no marijuana on the ballot, which I think is what brought many voters out this time. So, Linda (Farnsworth-Hutchings) did better in Homer and in some districts, whereas Charlie (Pierce) did better in his own," Persily said. "So as the mayor explained, it's going to be the turn out and where those votes come from."

Navarre previously endorsed Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings for mayor, saying she's an old family friend who's supported him in the past. He was asked his opinion of the other candidate in the run-off, Charlie Pierce.

"I got along fairly well with Charlie when he was on the assembly. He was on the assembly for several years while I was mayor. Got along mostly pretty good with him. He and I didn't see eye-to-eye on some things. And he could be pretty harsh in his criticism when he doesn't get his way. You know I think that Charlie has a little bit of a bully mentality," Navarre said. "But beyond that, my opinion of him is he's been around the Kenai borough for a long period of time; I'd say talk to the people who worked for him and find out - they probably know more about him than I do."

A caller named Ed from Cooper Landing phoned in and took issue with Navarre's characterization of Pierce.

"Maybe the mayor was right, maybe he gave you good assessment of what he thinks of Charlie. But I tell you this right now: this is the problem in the media, and those who have a certain kind of philosophic belief," the caller said. "And I can tell you right now, making a statement a certain individual is a bully-like person is not the way to solve problems."

Later in the Kenai Conversation, Navarre said he received a text from Pierce.

"If I could, I just want to mention that I got a text from Charlie. Said he was troubled by my characterization of him as a bully. You know I've had a couple of experiences, personal experiences with Charlie, as I said, on the assembly. I got along with good with him. I'm not meaning to offend him," Navarre said. "People can make their own minds up. I expressed why I was supporting Linda and I'll continue to support Linda, and those who support Charlie and his campaign, good luck."

The run-off election between Pierce and Farnsworth-Hutchings is set for October 24th. Pierce received 39 percent of Tuesday's vote, while Farnsworth-Hutchings pulled in 31 percent.

One-time mayor Dale Bagley had 28 percent and will not participate in the run-off.

Navarre was not allowed to run for a third consecutive (and fourth overall) stint as borough mayor, because of term limits.