It’s election day, Juneau.
Although ballots have been rolling in for a few weeks as part of the City and Borough of Juneau’s second election conducted primarily by mail, Tuesday, Oct. 5 is the final day to cast a ballot in the annual municipal election.
According to City Clerk Beth McEwen, about 4,800 completed ballots had arrived through Oct 2. During the city’s first vote-by-mail election last October, voters sent back nearly 12,000 ballots, representing a turnout of about 43% —the largest voter turn out since 2000.
How to vote
On Tuesday, two vote centers will be open for in-person voting between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. One is located at the City Hall Assembly Chambers, located at 155 S. Seward St. A second is at the Mendenhall Valley Public Library, located at 3025 Dimond Park Loop.
Voters will find a drop box outside the Douglas Library/Fire Hall Community Building located at 1016 3rd St., Douglas. A second box at the Auke Bay Don D. Statter Harbor boat launch parking lot (not the harbor office parking lot) located at 11801 Glacier Highway, Auke Bay. Drop boxes will close at 8 p.m.
Voters returning ballots via U.S. mail should ask for the envelope to be hand stamped to establish that the ballot was cast in time.
On the ballot
In this election, voters will elect a mayor, two assembly members and three school board members.
They will decide on a single ballot proposition to extend the city’s 3% temporary sales tax for street maintenance and general city and borough operations.
The 3% sales tax, which is a portion of the 5% the city collects on most transactions, must be reapproved by voters every five years. It was last extended in Oct. 2016 and went into effect on July 1, 2017. If voters don’t approve an extension of the tax, it will expire on June 30, 2022.
Incumbent Mayor Beth Weldon is poised to serve another term as mayor, as she faces no competition. Weldon would fill a second, three-year term in the mayor’s office.
Competitive races are on tap for both open CBJ Assembly seats.
In District 2, Assembly Member Michelle Bonnet Hale is running to serve a second, three-year term on the CBJ Assembly. Newcomer Kelly Fishler hopes to unseat her.
In Assembly District 1, a three-person race is set with Paul Kelly, Barbara Blake and Troy Wuyts-Smith vying for the seat being vacated by longtime Assembly Member Loren Jones, who is barred from running again due to term limits.
Candidate profiles are available on the Juneau Empire website.
School race draws a crowd
The race to fill three open school board seats has been lively this campaign season.
COVID-19 mitigations and school-based health and safety protocols have taken a center stage during the campaign.
In addition, a court record review by the Juneau Empire showed legal woes for school board hopefuls Ibn Bailey and Thomas Buzard.
Two write-in candidates joined the fray.
In all, six official candidates have filed and will appear on the ballot. The field includes current board president Elizabeth (Ebett) Siddon and newcomers Aaron Spratt, Thomas Buzard, Amber Frommherz, Ibn Bailey and Wiljordon V. Sangster.
Write-in candidates Ryan Scholl and Will Muldoon will not appear on the ballot but have been certified by the city clerk. Write-in votes are only counted if race results are close, using a threshold established by statute. If the race is not tight enough, write-in ballots are not counted.
McEwen said that she aims to have preliminary results available and posted online the evening of Friday, Oct. 8.
Juneau’s ballots will be counted in Anchorage for the second time in two years because Juneau does not have the equipment needed to count votes locally. However, a new ballot-counting center is in the works and should be ready for next year’s election.
Two write-in candidates vying for a seat on the school board could make the count more complex and add a wildcard to the counting operations.
Because there are three open seats, the top two vote-getters won’t be affected by write-in candidates. However, the write-in rules could come into play depending on how many votes are cast for the third-place finisher.
The canvass review board will convene on Oct. 19 to certify the election results. However, McEwen noted that city rules allow the meeting to be delayed by a day-at-a-time if needed.
• Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at email@example.com or 907-308-4891.