Alaska voters overwhelmingly elected women in local elections across the state on Tuesday, picking female candidates more than two-thirds of the time when given the choice between a male and female candidate according to our analysis.
We dug up as many local elections as we could find, finding any race where the decision before voters was between a male or female candidate. Each head-to-head race was counted as one opportunity and in races where there would be multiple winners from the field, we counted the maximum number of women that could be put into office through the race.
By that methodology, we found 30 opportunities for voters to pick between female and male candidates in Tuesday’s local elections. Of those–as of writing–20 of those races have put the woman in the lead. Here’s what we found:
There are some races, like the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly race between Marna Sanford and Sam Tuck that will be decided by absentee votes (though we’ve heard that Sanford had a strong absentee game and we’ll find out on Oct. 9).
Women saw particularly strong success in the Fairbanks area, where 10 out of 11 contested races between the city and borough are on track to be won by women, and Juneau, where voters went three for three. The success of progressive women in Fairbanks is particularly notable when voters trended much more conservatively on ballot initiatives.
Tuesday’s results are in line with a national trend of more women seeking–and winning–elected office than ever before. Women won a record number of congressional primaries this year, with a particularly big uptick in Democratic candidates, after a record number filed to run.
In the case of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, the election of Sanford would–along with the locked-in victories of Leah Berman Williams and Liz Lyke–would bring the gender balance of the nine-person assembly the closest it’s ever been to accurately representing the community.
The number of women in the Alaska Legislature also reached a new high this year with the appointment of Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky.
Female candidates had a wave of momentum behind them during the local election cycle with women out-fundraising men almost universally across the board, bringing an optimistic and forward-thinking approach to politics.
“We can look for a future that might be for only ourselves, but we can also look to future that we can see for others. I moved here 8 years ago, into the future that others saw for me. I moved to Fairbanks this beautiful community which is at times surrounded by more dark and cold than any other community of its size,” wrote Lyke, who’s one of two trans women elected in Fairbanks on Tuesday, in a post before the election. “The amazing thing is that in that darkness and cold we’ve really found each other. We’ve found that when we really need other people, they were there to help. What we’ve done as Borough, is make a special community in the most unlikely of places. When we vote we’re deciding whether continue that work of making a brighter future for others.”