PALMER -- Longtime Chugiak state legislator Bill Stoltze announced Friday he will seek his first Senate seat, a new position created by redistricting that takes in a broad swath from Chugiak to the edges of Wasilla.
Stoltze, a Republican, made his announcement before a supportive crowd in the cafeteria of Palmer's senior center, where the audience included his brother and mother, a regular there.
His decision to try for the Senate came after "a lot of thought and soul-searching and praying" as well as prodding from friends including Republican colleagues, Stoltze said.
The newly created Senate seat includes much of Stoltze's existing House district but adds Palmer and areas near Wasilla.
Stoltze has served six terms in the House and since 2008 has been co-chair of the influential House Finance Committee.
Other Republican contenders for the new seat include Edna DeVries, former Palmer mayor and current city council member, and Palmer Mayor DeLena Johnson, according to filings with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.
Democrat Pat Chesbro, a longtime Mat-Su educator, has also filed for the Senate seat.
Mat-Su Assembly member and deputy mayor Ron Arvin said in an email Friday that he plans to file for House District 12, the seat Stoltze currently holds.
Redistricting created Senate District F, an open seat that includes House District 12 -- Fairview Loop Road, Chugiak, Butte -- and House District 11, which includes Palmer, Lazy Mountain, Trunk Road and Seward-Meridian Parkway.
By ZAZ HOLLANDER