Only 25 percent of Juneau’s registered voters cast ballots in yesterday’s municipal election. They elected three Assembly and two school board members, and clearly rejected two controversial measures.
Of the three Assembly seats, one result was never in doubt, one was in the bag almost as soon as ballots were counted, and the third is still up in the air.
With all precincts reporting, Carlton Smith unofficially leads Loren Jones by a slim margin – 2,282 votes to 2,229 – for an area wide seat. Geny Del Rosario is a distant third with 761 votes. But with nearly 14-hundred absentee and questioned ballots to be counted on Friday, either Smith or Jones could come out on top.
Smith expressed confidence that the final tally would break his way.
“Just gratified that this has been a clean campaign,” Smith says. “It’s about Juneau’s future, it’s about being optimistic, we’ve got a team going forward, and I’m going to be a productive part of it.”
Jones said he’d wait until all ballots are counted before conceding the race. He said he knew it would be close going into Election Day.
“As it went on, and as Carlton and I and Geny did the various forums, I could tell it was pretty close all the way around. And Juneau always has at least one close race, and I’m sorry it’s mine, but it is,” says Jones.
City Clerk Laurie Sica says there are 1,020 absentee ballots and about 370 questioned ballots.
“So we’ll be reviewing those Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and then we’ll cast those through the machine Friday afternoon for unofficial results, and then on Tuesday next week we’ll be certifying the election,” Sica says.
Even with those outstanding ballots, the race for Assembly District 1 appears to have gone to Jesse Kiehl, who unofficially finished with 3,535 votes – more than twice the number of his opponent, Brad Fluetsch, who had 1,630. A first-time candidate, Kiehl won every precinct.
“I did not expect as strong a showing as I made, so that was both humbling and heartening,” he says.
Kiehl says he’s anxious to get to work on the assembly, and if humanly possible would serve on every committee. But with a number of big projects on the horizon, and a looming budget deficit, he says he’ll consult with other assembly members to see where he can best fit in.
“I’m going to need to narrow it down a little bit, and talk with some of the folks who are on the assembly now, and start setting those priorities,” he says.
Joining Kiehl on the assembly will be Randy Wanamaker, who’s no stranger to city politics. He previously served three consecutive terms on the assembly, which is the limit. He sat out a year, as required by city law, before deciding to run again this fall. Wanamaker was unopposed for a District 2 Assembly seat. He received 3,510 votes.