Here is a quick and dirty rundown of what happened at ballot boxes around the state last night.
With all precincts reporting, republican backed incumbent Mayor Larry Devilbiss trails union backed challenger Vern Halter by 179 votes. According the the Mats-su Borough website there are as many as 1693 absentee and 614 questioned ballots still to be counted, so this one could conceivably still be in doubt.
In assembly races George McKee beat Maria Serrano, Barb Doty beat Bob Doyle, and Doyle Holmes beat Randall Kowalke. This means the assembly may shift slightly to the right with the conservative Holmes replacing moderate Halter. The change in the Mayor’s office however makes this a wash on assembly votes.
School Board Redistricting
A measure to change the way school board seats are elected passed by over a 2-1 margin. School board seats will now be elected from the same districts as borough assembly seats, rather than borough-wide as had been the case.
Ballot local measures to restrict the sale of marijuana in Palmer and Houston split outcomes. In Palmer the measure passed 55%-45%. INn Houston however, residents rejected the restrictions by a wide margin, 68%-32%. Weed ‘n fireworks stands , here we come. !
Wasilla Sales Tax
In Wasilla there was measure to keep the local sales tax at 3% rather than returning to 2% after construction of a new library has been paid off. That measure failed 59%-41%. Wasilla residents will now see their local sales tax drop back down to 2%.
The Kenai Assembly district 1 race is as tight as can be. The top four candidates (Robin Davis, Incumbent Kelly Wolf, David Wartinbee, and Gary Knopp) are separated by only 79 votes. Only 13 votes separate Gnopp and Wartinbee at the top. This one is going to the absentee votes to decide.
In other assembly races Brandii Holmdahl and Willy Dunne prevailed.
There is no indication any of these outcomes significantly shift the borough assembly in any direction.
The Odd Soldotna Sales Tax Proposition
In an odd twist a borough ballot proposition that effectively repeals the City of Soldotna’s local sales tax passed 59%-41%. The people who voted in Soldotna districts actually voted to keep their sales tax by over a 26% margin, but voters from other communities around the borough overwhelmingly voted the other way. Soldotna will now have to do without a local sales tax.
In what may be the highest profile race of the night, Karl Kassel beat Republican legislator Tammie WIlson by a wide 57%-39% margin. While Kassel was supported by Democrats and unions, the wide victory margin may have had more to do with the many big name Fairbanks Republicans who crossed over to support Kassel.
Kathryn Dodge and Van Lawrence both won borough assembly seats comfortably. Uber conservative Assemblyman Lance Roberts was unopposed.
Air Quality Proposition
The conservative backed Home Heating Initiative, which would have restricted the borough’s ability to regulate air pollution, looks to have failed in a close vote 51.6% to 48.4%. This is the second time in two years this type of proposition has failed.
Voters in the City of Fairbanks, not to be confused with the Fairbanks North Star Borough, overwhelmingly approved a 5% sales tax on marijuana products by 84%.
Republican backed incumbent Mayor Merrill Sanford was defeated by Greg Fisk by over a 2-1 margin.
The assembly is completely unchanged with incumbents Jerry Nankervis and Loren Jones both winning. Nankervis won by only 321 votes in a three way race against Dixie Hood and Jason Puckett. Jones was unopposed