It was a late night for anxious residents and candidates who eagerly waited into the early hours of Wednesday morning to find out the preliminary results of the 2023 City and Borough of Juneau municipal election.
Despite the uncertainty of the votes still to be counted — the count released Wednesday only reflects eligible ballots received through Oct. 1 — some candidates say they are feeling relief, while others are feeling the heat.
The results released represent 18.72% of registered voters, compared to the official voter turnout of just under 33% during the 2022 local election. Another set of updated preliminary results is expected to be released on Friday, along with another update the following week. The certified count won’t be shared until Tuesday, Oct. 17.
Here’s how candidates are reacting so far.
Areawide Assembly leading candidates share restrained excitement
Of the 5,198 ballots released shortly before 1 a.m. Wednesday, the races appear to be tight for the candidates leading in the 10-person field for two open Assembly Areawide seats.
Currently in the lead for the seats are Paul Kelly and Ella Adkison, who received 1,946 and 1,698 votes, respectively. The pair are closely followed by Nano Brooks, JoAnn Wallace and Laura Martinson McDonnell, all less than 400 votes away from securing a seat.
Despite the high stakes, leading candidates Kelly and Adkison in separate interviews shared the exact same sentiment.
“I’m cautiously optimistic,” each candidate said.
Kelly, who currently holds a much more prominent lead than the other top candidates, said his position does give him a sense of security the hard work he put in the past few months was worth it.
“I woke up in the middle of the night and saw the results and I was excited,” he said. “I think there’s still some room for movement so I’m not declaring victory at this point, but it feels really good.”
Adkison said she was not surprised to see who the top five candidates turned out to be, nor was she shocked by the close margins. She said it was clear to her early on which candidates put in the hard work to secure their votes.
“Obviously I’m really happy to see that I have so many people who have given me their support, but at the same time, you know, there’s a lot of votes left to count,” she said.
Adkison said it’s anyone’s guess as to where the five candidates will end up when the election is finalized.
“I couldn’t have guessed the order,” she said. “I’m not ready to make any celebrations because a lot of things can change in there — the five of us are pretty tight right now.”
Brooks, who trails Adkison by 209 votes, said he is feeling confident he has more votes coming his way. He, too, said he wasn’t surprised by the slim margins in the race.
“It’s just about as close as I thought it would be,” he said. “I think it’s awesome to see everyone polling out as they are right now, but to get too excited about it right now would be a flaw.”
Brooks said he expects to see positions continue to shift across all the races along with the ballot proposition.
Assembly members District 1 and 2 incumbents breathe after lead
Assembly District 1 incumbent Alicia Hughes-Skandijs said Wednesday afternoon she was still recovering from the late night waiting for the results. However, the lack of sleep was worth it, she said, after opening the results to see herself in what she described as a “cautiously strongish lead.”
“It’s always nice the day after it’s over,” she said, laughing. “I don’t ever take anything for granted because this is just where we are right now. So I hope it holds.”
The results showed Hughes-Skandijs with an 839-vote lead over challenger Joe Geldhof. Like many other leading candidates, Hughes-Skandijs said the likelihood of the results shifting definitely gives her some nerves, but the strength of her lead early on does keep her hopeful for a successful outcome in her favor.
Hughes-Skandijs said she’s glad to see fellow Assembly incumbent Christine Woll lead handily in her race to secure another term in her District 2 seat. Woll earned 1,391 more votes than her challenger David Morris, according to the result.
Geldhof said from the results Wednesday, he thinks the chances of him being elected are “next to zero.”
“There was no celebration around my house. Absent something odd weird or peculiar happening, it’s the improbable — a 1% chance — it’s not going to happen,” he said. “Juneau is going to get an Assembly consisting of people with very limited real-world experience, and all you can do is ask and pray for mercy.”
Woll said she’s excited about the odds of her serving another term on the Assembly. She described the entire campaign experience as “extremely rewarding.”
“I’m feeling really happy about the results of my race — all the votes haven’t been counted — but I’m still feeling good about it,” she said.
In an interview Wednesday, Morris said he was happy with where he stood in the race given how difficult it can be to run against an incumbent.
“I just wanted to give the people a choice and they have a choice,” he said. “Confidence-wise, I don’t think I’m gonna win, but I gave it a good shot. And I’m happy with that.”
Leading Board of Education candidates share cautious confidence
Out of the three candidates who ran to fill the two open seats on the Board of Education, David Noon and Britteny Cioni-Haywood emerged as the leaders as of Wednesday morning.
According to the results, Noon had secured 3,216 votes, followed by Cioni-Haywood with 2,993 votes. The pair handily outpaced third-place candidate Paige Sipniewski with 1,646 votes.
In an interview Wednesday afternoon, Noon said he’s “feeling pretty good” about where he stands, but noted anything can change. He said he’s happy to see Cioni-Haywood emerge alongside him in the lead, given the hard work they both put into their respective campaigns.
“I’ve known Britteny for 17 years now, and we’ve worked together as friends and I have a lot of confidence in her ability to be on the board,” he said. “So really all that’s left now is bragging rights between the two of us.”
Noon said the preliminary outcomes of the other races didn’t take him by surprise, but he did express disappointment to see the narrow rejection of the City Hall proposition so early on.
“That’s the real one that I’m really hoping will turn around,” he said.
Cioni-Haywood shared similar remarks in an interview Wednesday afternoon. She applauded Noon’s efforts this election and shared excitement about both of their respective positions in the race.
“I know it’s preliminary, but I’m feeling pretty good with the lead and I hope it holds — I think David and I would be good counterparts on the board,” she said.
Sipniewski, in an interview Wednesday, shared her disappointment with where she stood in the race currently.
“I’m pretty behind in the votes so I’m not feeling very confident,” she said.
Sipniewski said she has some hope there are more votes in her favor that have yet to be counted.
Proponents express optimism about the City Hall proposition’s slim margin
On Wednesday the preliminary count showed a razor-thin difference in votes on ballot Proposition 1 — the only one on the ballot this fall — which asked whether to approve $27 million in bond debt to fund the construction of a new City Hall.
The results showed 2,582 no votes versus 2,470 yes votes for the proposition — a narrow 112-vote difference against the proposition’s passing.
Candidates like Hughes-Skandijs, Woll and Adkison said they weren’t surprised by the vote, but hope the next batch of results indicate a clearer outcome.
“All my fingers are crossed that City Hall does a last-minute sprint,” Hughes-Skandijs said. “I know the need for it, so this is a little torturous, almost more so than my own race, watching City Hall because I’ll be sad if it loses in the end, and we have to go back to the drawing board and come up with another plan.”
Woll agreed and said for now it’s a waiting game.
“I certainly hope it passes and I certainly have hope that it’s still possible, but I am no pollster,” she said.
Geldhof differed and said he thinks — and hopes — the City Hall proposition will fail.
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (651) 528-1807.