Runoff: Charlie Pierce leads for Kenai Borough mayor


The Tuesday runoff election for Kenai Borough mayor appears to favor Charlie Pierce, with 51.66 percent and Linda Hutchings with 48.34 percent of the vote. Some 6,792 votes have been counted, but absentee and early votes are not included in that tally. There are as many as 1,000 votes yet to be counted and technically Hutchings could close the 226-vote lead.

The Oct. 23 runoff was the result of a three-way race on Oct. 3, when none of the candidates received more than 50 percent to have an outright win. Dale Bagley was on that ballot, and he received 29 percent of the vote, with Pierce at 38 percent and Hutchings at 31 percent. The election will be certified on Oct. 31, according to borough election rules.

The contest between Pierce and Hutchings grew testy in some political circles, and two weeks ago a lawyer representing Pierce served his opponent with a letter demanding that Hutchings and her surrogates stop making accusations of domestic violence against Pierce or face a defamation lawsuit. Later, some supporters of Hutchings posted actual court documents on social media to make their points.

Seventeen years ago, Pierce was charged with assault in the fourth degree during a dispute with his now ex-wife. The charge was reduced to harassment and he pleaded no contest, performed 40 hours of community service, and took a court-ordered class.

Pierce worked for ENSTAR Natural Gas Company for 39 years, with over two decades as ENSTAR’s division operations manager on the Kenai Peninsula. He retired in 2016. He also served on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly from 2008-2014.

The outgoing mayor, Mike Navarre, heads to the Walker Administration, where he will serve as commissioner for the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development. Navarre has served since Dec. 1, 2011 as borough mayor.

The borough government in Alaska is akin to a county government in other states. The Kenai Borough covers 29 communities on the Kenai Peninsula in Southcentral Alaska.

Borough election page results by precinct.


  1. Pleading “no contest” results in the same finding of “guilty” by a judge as if the case went to trial. People use the term ‘no contest’ to explain away their conduct and to candy coat it, when in reality they were determined to be guilty of the offense. Getting 40 hrs of community service and required to take a domestic violence course are not small penalties. They reflect a judge’s determination that Pierce’s conduct was serious.
    His history in the criminal justice system is a very relevant factor in determining whether he is suitable to be elected mayor.

  2. Don’t live in Kenai myself. Yes, the Harrasment conviction is something to consider. But it was also 17 years ago & the charge was reduced to harrasment. Have there been any incidents since then? 40 hours of community service is really not necessarily an indication of a serious assault by itself nor is a requirement to attend classes. In fact they are pretty standard. You’d have to know exactly what happened to really assess the incident. Easy political baggage for the political opponent to attack these days though.

  3. …or…The judge appreciated that the case did not merit the charge the DA had brought and ruled as such. You are correct that a “no contest” can or may be judged that way; however, the judge ruled on harassment, not 4th degree assault. A big difference methinks…

  4. Charges for D/V cases rarely reflect what actually happened, especially when it involves children and an active divorce case. Many times pleas are taken to spare children. For an armchair commenter to form judgment solely on the courtview database is foolish. The whole purpose of our judicial system is to punish and encourage change of behavior where and when possible. Has there been a repeat offense? No. Compare this to Tim Navarre.

    Were convictions truly a disqualifier of public service how would Tim Navarre still be there? Look at his record for DUI arrests. How does he even have a valid drivers license? These are only the cases for which he was not able to get out of because of his connected family.

    He is a repeat offender yet still has been on the school board, city council, and other commissions or boards to which his brother appoints him.

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