The unofficial results are in: Ketchikan voters have chosen two new Borough Assembly members; retained two incumbent City Council members; kept one incumbent School Board member and elected one newcomer to the School Board.
A schools-improvement project tax passed by a wide margin, but the fate of the boroughwide $2 per pack tobacco tax is too close to call.
Judith McQuerry and Rodney Dial are the apparent winners of two open Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly seats.
The unofficial results put McQuerry at the top, with 958 votes. Dial isn’t too far behind, though, with 903.
The next-highest vote-getter in that five-person race was Sue Pickrell with 794; followed by Dave Timmerman, 779; and Keith Smith, 660.
McQuerry, a newcomer to political office, said she wants to be a positive voice for the whole community of Ketchikan.
“I have been very disturbed by the people inside the City of Ketchikan who feel disenfranchised from the actions of the Borough Assembly,” she said. “I hope that people will trust that they can talk to me and I will represent their views for the whole borough.”
Dial, also new to elected office, said he’s honored and humbled to be chosen for the Assembly. He said his focus will be on keeping the cost of living down for individual citizens, wherever possible.
“I see a lot of people that really are forgotten citizens, living on fixed incomes, many of them paycheck to paycheck. And I feel until this point, really no one has represented them,” he said. “So, starting tomorrow, I hope to represent those folks that are struggling in this community and we really need to watch our expenses so they can continue to live here.”
For Ketchikan School Board, voters chose to keep incumbent Trevor Shaw by a wide margin. He had the most votes with 1,292. Kim Hodne is the apparent winner of the second open School Board seat with 931 votes.
Conan Steele was the third candidate on the ballot for School Board, and ended the night in third place with 685 votes. Kevin Johnson ran a write-in campaign and received 549 votes, according to the unofficial results.
Shaw said he’s ecstatic to be re-elected to the Board another three years.
“I kind of ran on my record and what I’ve been able to accomplish and the relationships I’ve been able to establish,” he said. “It’s been a really humbling experience. I’ve learned a lot. That’s what I took to the voters, said, ‘Hey, this is what I’d like to do for the next three years — to continue to advance the best interests of the board.’ It feels good to kind of get a mandate to do that.”
Hodne said he likes to think the voters responded to his message of maintaining the quality of the schools, and pushing forward on capital improvement projects.
“Even in lieu of the fiscal storm that we’re all afraid of on the horizon, we still need to move on the infrastructure,” he said. “There’s a few things that need to be done.”
For Ketchikan City Council, two incumbents were running for re-election and got it. Judy Zenge had the most votes with 765. Julie Isom received 672.
Isom said she’s happy to be re-elected, and to get started on the city’s annual budget process, which is set to begin very soon.
“This sounds really silly, but I’m excited to jump right into the budget,” she said. “Last year, it was all new and it was kind of scary jumping in to a huge document like that. This year, I know what I’m getting into and I know where to look and especially where I want to look that maybe we can make some modifications, in my opinion.”
Zenge, who has a bad cold, said she’s grateful to voters for keeping her on the Council. When asked what she thought voters responded to in her campaign message, she said: “Just that I’ll continue to work hard and I’m not afraid to ask tough questions and I believe in representing all the people in the city.”
Spencer Strassburg was unsuccessful in this, his second bid for City Council. However, he indicated as he left election headquarters at City Hall that he would consider applying to be appointed to KJ Harris’ now-vacant seat. Harris has resigned from the Council due to health.
The tobacco tax would charge $2 per pack of cigarettes, or 50 percent of the wholesale price of other tobacco products. It passed, according to unofficial results, but by too narrow of a margin to call it. The “yes” votes totaled 1,158; and “no” votes totaled 1,115.
The five-year extension of the borough’s half-percent school project sales tax, however, passed by a wide margin: 1,491 to 774.
Borough Mayor David Landis, running unopposed for re-election, received 1,803 votes.
The Canvass Board still needs to count more than 500 absentee and questioned ballots. Once those results are counted, election results still need to be certified by the Ketchikan City Council and Ketchikan Borough Assembly before they become official.
Overall turnout on Election Day was 27 percent. The Saxman, North Tongass #2 and Ketchikan #2 precincts had the best turnout with 31 percent each. The lowest turnout was at Ketchikan #1, which saw only 20 percent of its registered voters.
The Canvass Board meets Wednesday to count absentee and questioned ballots. That meeting starts at 1 p.m. in City Council chambers.
The City Council and Borough Assembly have both scheduled special meetings for Monday to certify election results.
KRBD’s Maria Dudzak contributed to this report.