Surprise: Kenai Borough Assembly votes in Navarre as temporary mayor

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Former Mayor Mike Navarre will take over as mayor when Kenai Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce steps away at the end of September to focus his efforts on his campaign for governor. The vote was taken at Tuesday night’s Assembly meeting and was something of a surprise.

Assemblyman Richard Derkevorkian wanted to get more public input before the decision was made.

“I pushed for this appointment to be postponed until the next assembly meeting on Sept. 20 to allow interested parties to submit resumes for the Assembly to review at the next meeting. This would have allowed the public to be involved in the process. The candidates would have been included in the agenda packet, and the public would have had an opportunity to comment on the proposed candidates,” he said.

Assemblyman Tyson Cox of Soldotna, however, drove the push for getting the appointment done quickly. The Assembly voted 7-2 in favor of his proposal; there was little public involvement. Derkevorkian and Assemblyman Bill Elam were the only members who voted against it.

“This completely bypassed involving the public,” Derkevorkian said.

The item was a “lay down,” which means it was a last-minute item and the public was not aware that something as important as choosing an interim mayor was on the agenda. “There would have been no interruption to borough activities if we had waited until Sept. 20. Mayor Pierce’s resignation doesn’t take effect until the end of the month,” Derkevorkian said.

Navarre, a Democrat and political activist, was mayor of the borough from 1996-1999 and later from 2011-2017. He was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives, was the commissioner of the Commerce for former Gov. Bill Walker, and is a co-chair of the Walker for Governor campaign.

There was an air of orchestration to the quick deliberation and vote, without inviting public comment. Navarre, who attended the meeting for the first time in a long while, sat in the back of the room for most of the proceedings, but came forward to speak to the Assembly at one point during the deliberations. He said he sees the role as a caretaker position. But his role will involve work on the 2024 budget.

Pierce is leaving the borough with as much as a $30 million surplus, after not raising taxes during his five-year tenure.

31 COMMENTS

  1. This is completely wrong!!! Why put in a Democrat Mayor when the public voted for a Conservative!!!! This is criminal and the assembly should not be allowed to get away with this.

      • No. They aren’t. They don’t affiliate officially, but they don’t leave their politics at home when they show up at assembly.

        The Kenai Peninsula has a small but very vocal leftist crowd, unfortunately many of them are assembly members…Drag Show for Toddlers anyone?

  2. This is really really wrong to leave the whole public out of the equation. What do we have here, another Anchorage assembly group? Slam Bam, here ya go folks!! Watch that $30 million surplus disappear in the blink of an eye. Plus he’s associated with bill walker. That’s a big red flag right there!

    • How did we get put in this position to be without a Mayor before his term was up?? Quitting for seeking higher office?? Lawsuits past and coming that cost us much money?? Hiring #1 whose resume was a lie? (JQ) We don’t need a “match” for this man. Just a sigh of relief.

      • Seems like you missed the point and just started bashing the previous mayor, like having a bad mayor justifies keeping the public out of the equation. Ya sure, you believe the position is non-partisan.

  3. Kenai, how did you get so many lefties on your assembly? I thought this was a conservative bastion? This one is kinda on you all for letting these folks get on.. also, one would think Pierce would put some safeguards in on the way out or cry foul louder at such a partisan play? Oh well. So it goes. South Anc is about to put Giessel back in, because, I guess they like people who want to steal the PFD and try to hamstring the Gov from their own party. People fighting over the Young seat willing to hand it to the Dem because they are too ignorant or prideful to put the other one second, and oh yeah, we are about to give Princess Lisa another term. No helping those who won’t help themselves I guess. People want to be serfs and have rulers rule over them, what can you do? Drag them kicking and screaming to liberty?
    No thanks. You want it these corrupt hacks who literally hate you running your state? Well then, you got it.

    • The Kenai Peninsula is NOT a conservative bastion. Remember it has Homer as well as a very vocal crew of leftists in Kenai and welfare dependents in Kasilof.

      Even the conservatives on the Kenai are not “Alaskan” conservatives…they are more like the Minnesotan idea of moderates.

      Hefty sales taxes and very hefty property taxes all fund a bloated Peninsula government; definitely Not an Alaskan conservative community.

  4. Don’t think the rest of the municipalities sat on their hands during Covid.

    They watched with interest how much Anchorage’s ruling Politburo could get away with. Specifically how much the citizens would allow their rights to be trampled. Turns out, a hell of a lot more than anyone could have expected.

    They also watched how the Anchorage Politburo was re-elected and re-elected. They rightly concluded people don’t care enough to push back.

    You get the government you deserve.

  5. Charlie should never have quit midstream. Dunleavy will easily be re-elected and now Kenai has a Left-wing mayor in office. Goodbye $30 million surplus.

  6. The Borough Assembly is not following KPB ordinances with this appointment:

    2.04.080. – Vacancy.
    Vacancies in the office of mayor may be declared and filled as provided by AS § 29.20.280.

    AS 29.20.280. Vacancy in the Office of Mayor.
    (b) A vacancy in the office of mayor occurring six months before a regular election shall be filled by the governing body. The person appointed serves until the next regular election when a successor is elected to serve the balance of the term. If a member of the governing body is appointed mayor, the member shall resign the seat on the governing body. If a vacancy occurs more than six months before a regular election, the governing body shall call a special election to fill the unexpired term.

    Charlie Pierce’s current term was set to expire late in 2023, thereby necessitating a special election.

    • Saw the same thing in Anchorage and nobody did anything to stop them. And ADN and KTUU didn’t mention a word about it, as far as I know. I think the only way to stop this is to fundraise and the citizens sue the municipality. I think… I really don’t know and I think the biggest problem is that nobody does.

  7. This obviously doesn’t look good for Charlie.

    Now I’m very curious how widespread this trend (this problem) is. I have only recently started paying attention to local politics and I wonder if it is a nationwide issue that the assembly leans much more left than the population and behaves like this so the public doesn’t have a chance to be involved.

    It’s obvious in Anchorage that not many vote for anybody for the assembly probably because they don’t even know what the assembly is or does. But there is a couple thousand in every district that vote and always vote liberal. Who are those people exactly and how are they so involved in local politics?

    I assume they are just very confident people that have a college education, commonly a liberal arts degree no doubt, and now feel like they know so much more than the rest of the world and meet and organize with fellow indoctrinated souls and laugh and have a great time meeting and discussing how they can be a “positive force” and probably call it a “book club”. For all I know they don’t even discuss local politics that much. Somebody in the group maybe just stays in the know and is connected and reminds everyone who they need to vote for and that’s that. Might not be even discussed at all until the day before the elections and then they get a group text or email with a call to action. They are probably appreciative that they have such a friend so they don’t have to spend much time paying attention to what’s going on and just get a few talking points, probably some lie or sensationalism about what the conservatives want to do, and then instructions so they can go back to sharing recipes for kale. You know, The View, except no cameras.

    Then there is the rest of the population who doesn’t want to pay attention and doesn’t vote or they only read ADN or watch KTUU and there lies the problem. It always comes back to who is providing the news to the mass population. At least we have MRAK trying to keep guys like me in the know. I’m afraid, though, that it is not enough because people that read MRAK are already motivated. It’s like preaching to the choir.

    Perhaps more fundraising for facebook ads and youtube ads might help… I don’t know. The message needs to be very simple and short, but not just a campaign sign. People need to stop just throwing up their hands and saying “you get the government you deserve” because people that say that also get the government that they deserve if they aren’t going to do anything other than criticize the general public from the peanut gallery.

    • I’ve lived all over the state, longest in the Interior but a few years on the Kenai.

      I wouldn’t call the Kenai conservative, not by Alaskan standards. It feels more like a Minneapolis suburb than anything else. Kinda nasty

  8. Bjorkman, who is running to replace RINO Micciche, has voted for yet another democrat. While he claims to be a conservative, his voting record shows otherwise. He has shown support for a Dem and Walker for Governor, a RINO for Senate, Rank Choice Voting, and lets not forget his exuberance for everyone to take the VAX. And in case he doesn’t make it for senate, he’s also running to keep his seat on the Assembly. Look at so many of his campaign signs, right next to Murkowski. Time for this fake to go. FJB applies nationally and on the Peninsula.

  9. Navarre, hmm… say wasn’t that 13th century Frenchman, Charles the Bad also a Navarre? How is it that he now pops up down on the Kenai? Billy Walker discover a time tunnel?

  10. At every turn they attempt to circumvent the will of the voters and seem to be prevailing. Navarre is clearly a progressive with visions of higher office and these assembly members are assisting him in his journey.
    Sadly, Pierce has resigned for no reason and won’t win the governorship, so it is a lose-lose proposition.

  11. Lee pointed out what they did violated KPB ordinances and Suzanne’s article indicated there was a violation of open meeting laws, so who is in charge of enforcing these laws?

    • I messaged the assembly about this. The clerk responded saying the clerk and the attorney is in charge of enforcing the laws. If it is anything like Anchorage, that’s not good.

  12. Where’s the surprise? The majority of the Left leaning Assembly is composed of RINO’s and Dems. It was only natural for them to appoint a hardcore Democrat to the temporary Mayor’s position, even though the departing Mayor was a conservative Republican. Unfortunately, the public is forced to endure as much as they will endure, which at this point, seems to be endless assaults on their freedoms & legitimate voice in government.

  13. I’ve posted this before but it’s worth repeating because Linda Hutchings is planning on running for KPB mayor. Her comments about the drag show at Soldotna Creek Park, comparing drag performers to children who are cheerleaders and dancers in our community.

    “I think I’ve seen worse on halftime for the Super Bowl, at cheerleaders at the local ballgames and at some of the dance studios,” said council member Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings. “ … To be real honest with you, I was really impressed with the flips because that takes a lot of strength to do that.”

    Please keep in mind this drag performer was a man in a school girl outfit who raised his skirt to reveal a thong and twerked for an audience of adults and children.

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