Juneau lawmakers Egan, Muñoz and Kito re-elected to legislature

All three of the capital city’s state lawmakers handily won re-election Tuesday. Sen. Dennis Egan and Reps. Cathy Muñoz and Sam Kito III all got at least 60 percent of the votes counted in their respective races on Election Day.

Egan, the Democratic incumbent in Senate District Q, won 71 percent of the vote to 28 percent for Republican challenger Tom Williams.

It’s the first time Egan has faced an election challenge since being appointed to the Senate in 2009 by then-Gov. Sarah Palin. He says having an opponent makes it easier to talk issues.

“I’m very proud of my campaign, because we didn’t do anything that was negative. We were all positive,” Egan said.

For the past two legislative sessions Egan has caucused with the Republican-led Senate Majority. While the makeup of the new Senate is still unknown, he says he hopes the body will return to the bipartisan majority that existed prior to 2013.

“I would love to return to a bipartisan coalition,” he said. “I think (Kodiak Republican Senator) Gary Stevens did a great job. I’m not knocking what (Senate) President Charlie Huggins did. But (the bipartisan majority) just seemed to work smoother.”

Williams went to Africa for the last two weeks of the campaign, and was unavailable to comment.

Supporters of Republican Rep. Muñoz cheered at Coho’s Bar and Grill in downtown Juneau after results showed her winning House District 34.

Muñoz beat Democratic challenger George McGuan, 62 percent to 38 percent. She heads to Anchorage today to attend organizational meetings for the 2015 legislative session.

“The first caucus meeting is of the coastal and bush caucus,” Muñoz said. “There are 10 members from around coastal Alaska that meet on a regular basis that have common interests and we want to first understand the positions that each of us want in the new organization.”

For the past two sessions, Muñoz was the only member from Southeast Alaska on the House Finance Committee. While that’s an important role, she says she may explore taking a position of leadership in the House majority.

“I’ve been asked to consider co-chairman of Finance or Speaker of the House of Representatives. But those are big positions and I’m more than happy to serve in my current position as finance committee member,” Muñoz said.

No matter what role she plays, Muñoz says declining oil prices will be a major focus for the upcoming legislature.

Across town, McGuan spent most of his election night at Mi Casa in the Mendenhall Valley, which served as his campaign headquarters.

McGuan says he got a lot of raised eyebrows campaigning for Muñoz’s seat, but he also got support.

“More of the people who I interact with on a regular basis, the typical working type people were really happy to see at least a choice and then also a lot of people identified with me,” McGuan said. “If I could’ve done anything better I think it would’ve been spend more time out door-knocking. But I just couldn’t take time off of work because we’re raising a family and I gave it my all.”

Kito won the seat he was appointed to in January after longtime Juneau Rep. Beth Kerttula resigned to accept a fellowship at Stanford. The Democrat took 75 percent of the vote. His challenger, Republican Peter Dukowitz, took nearly 24 percent.

Kito said his priorities in the next legislative session will be to fully fund education and universal pre-kindergarten. During the upcoming session, he thinks major issues will be the Alaska National Guard scandal, dealing with declining oil revenues and the budget, and marijuana legalization.

“There will be a necessary response to the marijuana initiative, trying to put statutes together to initiate the legalization of marijuana and I suspect that will take a fair amount of work,” Kito says.

Dukowitz said he’s looking forward to finishing some projects he’s put off during the campaign. He’s not sure he’ll run for public office again, but he’s not ruling it out.

“I would like to say, ‘Yes, I’ll start running tomorrow,’ but I think with the demographics here it’s going to be tough,” Dukowitz says.

Results of the election are unofficial until certified later this month. On Tuesday, Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai said the agency received nearly 5,000 absentee and early ballots from Juneau’s two House Districts prior to Election Day. Most of the early ballots were counted on Tuesday, but the division will still accept absentee ballots by mail for two more weeks.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 1:15 p.m. with responses from Kito and Dukowitz.

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