Beth Weldon wins mayor’s race

Juneau mayoral candidates Saralyn Tabachnick, left, and Beth Weldon pose after Weldon's apparent election night victory on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, at City Hall.
Juneau mayoral candidates Saralyn Tabachnick, left, and Beth Weldon pose after Weldon’s apparent election night victory on Tuesday at City Hall. (Photo by Mikko Wilson/KTOO)

Beth Weldon will be the next mayor of Juneau.

Four candidates faced off in this year’s mayoral election. Unofficial results from Tuesday show Weldon with 3,431 votes.

Weldon is a small business owner. She retired as a division chief after 20 years with Capital City Fire/Rescue.

She previously won a seat on the Juneau Assembly in 2016 but resigned in August to run for mayor.

“I think the difference in why we did pretty well is we walked a lot of doors in a lot of neighborhoods that people said wouldn’t be for me, but we just walked them anyway,” Weldon said Tuesday from City Hall, where she watched results come in with fellow candidates and supporters. 

Saralyn Tabachnick was the next closest candidate with 2,745 votes.

Tabachnick is the executive director of AWARE, a local organization that provides shelter and services to victims of domestic or sexual violence.

“This whole process was so humbling to me,” Tabachnick said. “People who had never registered to vote or voted before, registered to vote for my campaign, because they wanted to vote for me.”

Also in the race was Norton Gregory, who earned 687 votes. Gregory is the director of housing services for the Tlingit Haida Regional Housing Authority.

He was elected to the Assembly in 2016. He also resigned his seat in August to run for mayor.

Political newcomer Cody Shoemaker also ran, but did not make appearances at candidate forums leading up to the local election.

Weldon said crime and affordable childcare are some of the first issues she plans to tackle as mayor. She also thanked her competitors for a fun campaign.

“We kept it to issues and I’ll enjoy talking to them and getting their viewpoints on issues in the future,” she said.

Weldon replaces Juneau’s outgoing mayor, Ken Koelsch. Koelsch has served since 2016.

He won the special election to replace Mayor Greg Fisk, who died of natural causes less than two months after winning election in 2015.

Initial voter turnout was 26 percent. That will change as the remaining ballots are counted.

City Clerk Beth McEwen said about 2,500 early, questioned and absentee ballots still need to be counted. The city plans to certify election results next Tuesday.

“As of last Thursday, we’d exceeded last year’s early voting numbers and it has been a pretty good turnout, not only in early voting, but at the precincts by the looks of things,” she said.

The new mayor will be sworn in at City Hall at an Oct. 15 Assembly meeting for a three-year term.

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