Loren Jones has been elected to the Juneau Assembly.
Jones will take over the District One seat being vacated by David Stone, who could not run for re-election due to term limits.
Jones closely watched the two ballot measures during the campaign and says he heard a lot of concerns about bonding to pay for deferred maintenance of city facilities. If proposition one fails after absentee and question ballots are counted, he says that will be one of the first challenges the new Assembly will have to face.
“If it’s not funded than we still have that deferred maintenance to try to figure out how to pay for and how to get it done,” he says.
Jones’ personal issue is voter turnout, which was just over 25 percent on Election Day. He says the capital city should do better.
“This is the second year in a row when I’ve left on election night to have less than 30 percent voter turnout, so I want to try to look at what we can do as an Assembly to get a higher voter turnout,” he says. “That may take a couple of years, because you can’t change an election system in one year, but in a couple of years, hopefully we can do something.”
Jones is retired from the state of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, where he worked in the behavioral health field for about 30 years.
This is his second run for Assembly. Last fall, he lost to Carlton Smith by 73 votes then set his sights on another run, while working on the coastal management initiative that failed in the statewide primary.
“About the last 13 to 14 months, I’ve been in some sort of campaign mode. It just feels really good to have it over,” he says.
Even with absentee and question ballots to be counted, he can now settle into a three-year term.
Jones received 3,223 votes on Election Day. His opponent Paul Nowlin had 1,934 votes.
“I thought it went very well. I was surprised to have so many votes to be honest. And I was thinking if I got a thousand votes and I saw that kind of support that I’d give it a go next year,” he says.
Nowlin says he ran for Assembly because he wanted to give back to his community.
“Really that is all I started out to do and then when I started talking to people and hearing their issues, affordable housing, jobs and education really became important to me,” he says. “I’m just very happy with the whole process. It’s been a fun learning experience.”
Nowlin says in the campaign he learned “way more” about Juneau “than he even knew he didn’t know.”