UPDATE Wed. Oct. 7, 4:30 p.m.: With all 1,644 city of Ketchikan ballots counted, the new City Council is taking shape. Abby Bradberry has defeated Jai Mahtani by a mere 35 votes for the third and final three-year council seat. Incumbent Dave Kiffer and challenger Riley Gass have also earned seats on the council.
Incumbent City Council Member Mark Flora will return for another two years on the council. He beat second-place challenger Grant EchoHawk by 132 votes.
The results remain unofficial until certified by the City Council. A meeting to finalize results and swear in Kiffer, Gass, Bradberry and Flora is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday in the Ted Ferry Civic Center.
Results for borough races — including for Ketchikan’s Borough Assembly and school board — are still pending. Borough officials are scheduled to count some 677 outstanding early, absentee, questioned and special needs ballots starting at 9 a.m. Monday.
Early returns are in from Ketchikan’s in-person polling. But with hundreds of early and absentee and postal ballots remaining to be counted, many of the city, borough and school board races are too close to call.
Most of Ketchikan’s City Council races remain up in the air. But incumbent City Council Member Dave Kiffer will likely retain his seat. That’s because a total of three three-year seats are up for election this year, and Kiffer leads the fourth-place candidate, Jai Mahtani, by a healthy margin of 320 votes.
Challenger Riley Gass is also in good shape. He looks likely to claim a City Council seat, coming in second place, leading the third-place candidate by around 120 votes.
But challenger Abby Bradberry’s lead over Mahtani is uncertain as a mere 27 votes separate the two, making it anyone’s race.
Incumbent Dick Coose currently sits in fifth place. He’d need to make up about 70 votes — about a fifth of those outstanding — to keep his seat.
The other challengers, Joey Jean Tillson, Lisa Scarborough and Spencer Strassburg haven’t fared as well. But none should be eliminated, given the 400 or so outstanding early, absentee, questioned and special needs ballots that remain to be counted.
City Council member Mark Flora is currently leading challenger Grant EchoHawk for a single one-year seat by more than 130 votes. Challenger Mary Stephenson likely won’t win a seat — she trails Flora by just shy of 200 votes.
The city is slated to resume the count at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Moving to the borough side, a total of three Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly seats are up for election this year, and incumbent A.J. Pierce and former Assembly Member Judith McQuerry are polling well. Pierce leads McQuerry by 40 votes. Challenger Jeremy Bynum is only behind McQuerry by about 60 votes.
Former Ketchikan school board member Trevor Shaw trails the top three by nearly 250 votes. That’d be a tough hill to climb even with nearly 700 votes still in play, but given the close race among the top three, all three seats remain too close to call.
Challengers Sheen Davis and Matthew Merrill look unlikely to win a seat. They’d each have to make up more than 350 votes to reach the top-three tier, but none are mathematically eliminated.
On the Ketchikan School Board, two seats are too close to call pending the nearly 700 absentee, by-mail and other votes.
Incumbent Diane Gubatayao will likely keep her seat on the school board; the incumbent leads the third-place challenger Ali Ginter by more than 550 votes. But incumbent Paul Robbins, Jr.’s lead over Ginter is less than 100 votes. That makes his three-year seat too close to call.
For the two available one-year seats on the board, newcomer Nicole Anderson leads incumbent Tom Heutte by more than 600 votes. She’s likely earned a seat on the school board.
Challenger Kim Hodne’s return to the school board isn’t such a sure bet — he leads Heutte by less than 200 votes. That race is, for now, too close to call.
It’ll be awhile before we know definitive results for the borough and school board elections — officials won’t start counting those ballots until 9 a.m. Monday.
City ballot measure
An uncontroversial ballot measure tweaking language in the city charter to adjust the time available to count ballots and cleaning up eligibility rules for city office appears set to pass — commanding roughly 80% of the in-person vote.
Turnout was around 27% of Ketchikan’s registered voters. That’s slightly higher than last year’s municipal election.
Voter registration for the November state and federal election is closed, but voters have until Oct. 24 to request absentee ballots. There’s more information at elections.alaska.gov.