Troll leads Peters in Juneau’s only contested municipal election race

Kate Troll is the presumptive winner of an Areawide Juneau Assembly seat, the only contested race in yesterday’s municipal election. In unofficial results, Troll leads by almost 300 votes with 1866 total; Bill Peters has 1571.

Getting the Mendenhall Valley vote was important for both Troll and Peters.

“If I hold my own in the Valley, I could win, because Douglas and downtown would likely go toward me,” Troll said Tuesday night at Juneau’s Election Central. “I don’t want to just be a candidate for one part of Juneau. My strategy was to be a candidate for all of Juneau.”

Peters had a similar goal.

“My focus was really to hit a lot of the valley voters. Valley turnout I think is one of the more important areas,” he said. “Folks downtown and in Douglas – they typically turn out for an election. I think it’s important to get the Valley voters out.”

Troll spent seven days knocking on doors in the Valley and heard a lot about jobs, the future of Juneau’s growth, and other issues.

“What was very interesting to me is I got several comments about, ‘What do you think about the choice of the Juneau lobbyist?’ which was not a question I anticipated,” she said. “People have very different opinions about that and aren’t very pleased with the recent choice.”

Troll was referring to the assembly’s 6-3 vote last month to hire Kevin Jardell as a lobbyist for the City and Borough of Juneau.

Despite Troll’s efforts, Peters still grabbed more of the votes in each of the Valley’s four precincts and the airport area. But it wasn’t enough to lead the overall race at the end of the preliminary count.

“Looks like Kate’s up about 300 votes. We’ll wait and see how the questioned ballots come in before we concede anything,” Peters said. “You never know how they’re going to split but typically they follow the same trend so I would surmise that Kate’s probably going to be serving as the Areawide Assembly member but we’ll wait and see.”

Troll says she expects her lead to hold, and says she wants her focus on the Assembly to be creating more jobs and convincing the legislature to increase school funding.

“I’m excited. I think that I’ll be able to bring it home,” Troll said. “The absentee ballots would have to change dramatically for me to lose at this point and time. So I want to thank Juneau and I will honor your support as best I can.”

Peters says he’ll continue to serve on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce and the Glacier Valley Rotary Club, and find other ways to be active in the community.

Peters says he raised over $14,000 for the campaign. Troll says she raised around $13,000.

Karen Crane and Mary Becker won the other two Assembly seats on this year’s ballot. Both ran unopposed and have served one term on the Assembly already.

Thurston, Worl elected to School Board

With no competition, Barbara Thurston and Lisa Worl have been elected to the Juneau Board of Education.

Worl has served on the board since December, when she was appointed to fill a vacant position. The mother of two Thunder Mountain High School students says she was happy to have the board’s support, and now feels like she has the community’s support as well.

Worl says her main focus in the next three years will be improving the school district’s student retention and graduation rates.

“I think it just kind of goes to the whole heart of education,” she said. “Just trying to educate those kids, makes sure they stay in school and graduate prepared. And I think that’s ultimately what the families want, it’s what the schools definitely want, and it definitely helps our bottom line as well.”

Thurston has been elected to a second full term.

She’s also an actuary for Alaska Public Entity Insurance. The company writes insurance coverage for school districts and municipal governments outside of Juneau, so Thurston has had substantial budget experience.

She says revenue issues will again dominate much of the board’s work beginning early next year. The majority of school funding comes from the state of Alaska, and in recent years it has remained the same, though district expenses have gone up.

For the last two years, Thurston has chaired the budget committee that helps write the district spending plan. That committee includes community members as well as the board.

“We’ll be getting started soon after the New Year,” she said. “We don’t yet have any preliminary numbers as to what to expect for revenue and that’s where everything starts. So I don’t know at this point whether we’re looking at significant cuts. I think we’re probably looking at least a little bit, but it’d sure be nice not to.”

Thurston was first elected to the board in 2010. Since then, the district has carved about 10 percent from its budget.

Lisa Phu, Rosemarie Alexander, and Casey Kelly contributed to this report

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