Ken Koelsch held a sizeable lead over opponent Karen Crane in Tuesday’s special mayoral election, a lead that will likely hold even after absentee ballots are counted later this week.
Though Koelsch didn’t support the Assembly’s decision to hold a special election, his platform — focused on diversifying the city’s economy and unifying the Assembly — won him 58 percent of the votes and the election. Crane won 40 percent of the vote. Approximately 5,971 ballots were cast Tuesday, with another 1,520 absentee ballots that will likely be counted Friday. Approximately 24 percent of Juneau’s registered voters participated in the election.
Crane told the Empire from the Assembly chambers she wouldn’t concede until every vote had been counted.
Koelsch, 71, has lived in Juneau for 47 years. He worked as a teacher at Juneau-Douglas High School for 28 years and then as a port director for U.S. Customs and Border Protection from 1996 until he retired in 2014.
This will not be Koelsch’s first time on the Assembly. He served two terms on Juneau’s governing body from 1997 to 2003, including as deputy mayor from 2002 to 2003.
Since January, Koelsch raised more than $60,000 dollars for his campaign, which many people believe to have set fundraising and spending records. As of March 8, he had spent more than $50,000, about $20,000 more than Crane.
Like Koelsch, Crane, 68, served two terms on the Assembly, but she ended her second term a few months early in order to run in the mayoral race. She chaired the Assembly Finance Committee from 2012 until she left the Assembly in January.
Koelsch will serve as mayor for the remainder of former Mayor Greg Fisk’s term, which was set to end October 2018. Fisk passed away in November less than a month after taking office.