Polls open for mayoral election, early voter turnout strong

The polls will open today at 7 a.m. for the city’s special mayoral election, and if early voting results are any indication, they may be busier than they were last October.

As of Friday, more than 1,300 people had cast an absentee ballot in the mayoral race, already beating last fall’s total early voting turnout of 982, according to City Clerk and Election Official Laurie Sica. That doesn’t include the ballots from Monday’s early voting crowd.

“I know that we’ve far exceeded our by-mail and by-fax voting, and our absentee stations have been very busy as well,” Sica said Monday afternoon before the day’s ballots had been tallied. “I think we’re probably double of what we did at the fall election so far. We were almost up to last year’s turnout by Friday of last week.”

Last October, 5,764 people voted in the mayoral race between incumbent Merrill Sanford and challenger Greg Fisk. This year’s race between Karen Crane and Ken Koelsch has been a bit more heated and a lot more visible.

As of March 8, when Crane and Koelsch filed their most recent spending reports with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, the candidates had spent a combined total of nearly $80,000 on their campaigns. Koelsch’s campaign alone had spent more than $50,000.

Both campaigns have funneled much of their money into yard signs and radio and newspaper advertising at rates unseen in the last mayoral race, during which both candidates together spent less than $30,000.

Juneau has 13 voting precincts, which means it also has 13 polling places. If you are unsure where to vote, call the polling place locator at 1-888-383-8683.

One polling location has changed since the last election. Voters previously accustomed to voting in the Mendenhall Mall will now vote in the Mendenhall Valley Public Library. Before last fall’s election, the Auke Bay Fire Hall polling place was moved to the University of Alaska Southeast Recreation Center, which is where it will remain for all future elections.

Polls close at 8 p.m.

• Contact reporter Sam DeGrave at 523-2279 or sam.degrave@juneauempire.com.

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