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Judge clears Szymanski for Senate run
KENAI - A judge has upheld Democrat Mike Szymanski's eligibility to run for the state Senate in District E.
The Republican Party of Alaska and GOP activists tried to block the former lawmaker's bid to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Jerry Ward in the district that stretches from south Anchorage to the northern part of the Kenai Peninsula.
They argued Szymanski had not lived in the district for the required year before he filed for office. As proof, they offered the fact that he voted in another district in last September's special election and didn't change his voter registration until January.
A state law says "a qualified voter loses residence by voting in another election district or in another state's elections." Szymanski contends he has lived in the district since 1998 at the condominium of his companion, Sheelah Shelton.
Director of Elections Janet Kowalski ruled in Szymanski's favor, and the GOP took the issue to court. Kenai Superior Court Judge Jonathan Link upheld Kowalski's decision today, saying Alaska law allows voters to cast their ballots outside of their home districts.
Randy Ruedrich, the chairman of the Republican Party of Alaska, said the party hasn't decided whether to appeal Link's decision to the Alaska Supreme Court.
Problem brakes not on Juneau school buses
JUNEAU - School buses in Juneau do not use the type of air brakes that have caused problems in some Lower 48 communities.
The problem was discovered by the brake system's manufacturer, Bendix of Elyria, Ohio, after a San Francisco school bus had a temporary loss of brake capability. The driver was able to stop safely.
No accidents have been linked directly to the brake systems, although there have been 40 reported incidents of drivers temporarily losing braking power.
Gregg McLaughlin of ABG Bus Lines said school buses in Juneau use a different system. "We have all hydraulic brakes. Everything we've got is safe," he said today.
Some Washington state school districts pulled buses off routes while the brakes were being inspected.