Merrill Sanford can officially be called Juneau Mayor-elect.
Friday’s count of absentee and questioned ballots from the municipal election gives the former Assemblyman 4,099 votes to Cheryl Jebe’s 3,440, or 54 percent to 45 percent of the vote.
Sanford returns to the Assembly after a year away due to term limits. He says he wants local government to focus on reducing the cost of living and bringing jobs to Juneau.
“We probably need to have that up front in our mind every time we vote on something that’s going to increase the cost of government in our town, to either our taxpayers, or our tourists coming in, or to our business people,” Sanford said. “We need to take that into consideration.”
Heading into the absentee/questioned ballot count, Proposition 1 trailed by nearly 60 votes. It made those up and more, and has passed with 3,888 votes to 3,815. The measure allows the city to sell $25-million in general obligation bonds to pay for various capital improvement projects.
Another capital improvement funding package – Proposition 2 – also passed on a vote of 4,545 to 3,211. Prop 2 is a five-year extension of the city’s temporary 1- percent sales tax.
Sanford opposed both measures during the campaign, but now says they’ll help put people to work.
“Those projects can start immediately in the next year,” said Sanford. “So that’s a good thing for our community, because it’ll mean some more of our contractors and business people are busy and our worker bees are working.”
Newly elected Assemblyman Loren Jones supported both measures. He says a provision to use $10-million from the sales tax revenue to pay down debt on the bonds for the first five years should keep property taxes from going up.
“I think it funds some good projects in town,” said Jones. “I might have done it differently, but there’s a lot of nuance to deciding which went into which package. So I think it alleviates a lot of questions over the next year or two. We can move on with the budget, we can get these projects going.”
Other winners in Tuesday’s election remain the same. Jerry Nankervis wins the District 2 Assembly seat, and Phyllis Carlson, Andi Story and Destiny Sargeant were elected to the school board.
The CBJ Canvass Board will meet next week to certify the results. The newly elected mayor and Assembly members will be sworn in Oct. 15. School board members will take the oath of office a day later.