Compared to initial election returns, a shake-up appears to be underway in the race to fill the third open seat on the Juneau School District Board of Education.
Monday evening, City and Borough of Juneau election officials issued updated election results that show Will Muldoon, write-in candidate, moving into the third-place spot with 2,058 votes. However, election officials have not certified any winners yet, and only about 70% of the vote has so far been counted.
In an email Tuesday morning, City Clerk Beth McEwen said that vote counting continues. She said she expects to announce additional results Friday evening.
With almost 70% of the vote counted, Muldoon surpasses Ibn Bailey, who has 1,476 votes. Aaron Spratt is still trending close to Bailey with 1,381 votes.
The third-place finisher will win a seat on the board, likely joining incumbent Elizabeth Siddon, the top vote-getter so far, and Amber Frommherz, who is currently comfortably holding the second spot.
When election officials released the first batch of results on Friday, Bailey held the third seat.
The canvass review board is set to convene on Oct. 19 to certify the election results. However, McEwen noted that city rules allow the meeting to be delayed on a day-at-a-time basis if needed.
Where there’s a Will
Muldoon started his write-in campaign eight days after McEwen’s office mailed ballots to all registered voters in the borough and 13 days before they were due back.
He raised about $4,000 during his campaign, he said in a Tuesday afternoon call.
“Support came together quickly,” Muldoon said. “ I knew we’d have to be unconventional.”
Muldoon credits targeted radio advertising, one-on-one conversations with voters and an organic campaign of letters to the editor with helping his campaign gain traction quickly.
“I had people contact me and ask if they could write letters,” he said, adding that after a few people volunteered to write letters, he reached out to other people to ask them to write letters.
“I didn’t read them before they were submitted,” he said, adding that it’s interesting to see what people who know him from different areas of life had to say.
Muldoon has run for a seat on the school board twice before. He first ran as a teenager about 20 years ago. In 2012, he came in third in a race to fill two seats.
“It’s interesting to do this a couple of times over 20 years and then have a 13-day write-in campaign be the one that sticks,” he said.
He attributes the success he’s seen so far to the overall dynamics of the race.
“We felt from the first that most people had no trouble picking the two top candidates but struggled to find a third that they could be comfortable with and be proud of. I’m a comfortable third choice,” he said.
Muldoon said he understands it’s “extremely rare” for a write-in candidate to win in Juneau. But, he said that based on his analysis, the other candidates would need to “overperform” with the remaining ballots relative to current results to pull off an upset.
“Thank you to everyone who supported me and everyone who ran,” Muldoon said.
A spirited race
The three open seats on the Juneau School District Board of Education have attracted a robust field of eight candidates with clear dividing lines around the topic of at-school COVID-19 mitigation measures. Of the candidates, six were certified and appeared on the ballot, and two used a certified write-in approach.
Siddon and Frommherz ran on a platform that included maintaining current COVID-19 mitigation measures to keep schools open.
Bailey also supported current mitigation measures. However, according to court records reviewed by the Empire, in 2019, he received three protective orders, one of which involved a principal at a local elementary school. He was banned from going near the school where the principal worked or having contact with the principal.
Spratt and fellow candidate Thomas Buzard have been sharply critical of the school district’s COVID-19 mitigation plans. Both support allowing parents to choose the mitigation measures that apply to their students.
Wiljordan Sangster has been largely absent from the campaign trail and has not specifically provided his views on this issue.
However, in the candidate information he supplied to McEwen’s office, he cites the board’s decision to stand by the COVID-19 mitigation policy preventing the boy’s basketball team from traveling to the state tournament last spring as his primary reason for running. In addition, he shared campaign signs with Spratt and Buzard.
Kyle Scholl is the other write-in candidate. As of Monday evening, he has 270 votes. Scholl suggested exploring a potential COVID-19 middle ground that requires students to wear masks when they are out of their seats but lets them take them down when seated at their desks.
As of Monday evening
Beth Weldon; 5,189 votes (Weldon ran unopposed)
Write-in: 439 (no write-in candidates were certified)
Extend 3% sales tax
Assembly District 1
Barbara Blake: 3,582
Paul Kelly: 1,570
Troy Wuyts-Smith: 641
Write-in: 155 (no write-in candidates were certified)
Assembly District 2
Michelle Bonnet Hale: 4,223
Kelly Fishler: 1,765
Write-in: 49 (no write-in candidates were certified)
School Board (Three open seats)
Elizabeth (Ebett) Siddon: 4,436
Amber Frommherz: 4,080
Will Muldoon: 2058
Ibn Bailey: 1,476
Aaron Spratt: 1,381
Thom Buzard: 1,108
Wiljordan V. Sangster: 815
Kyle Scholl: 270
• Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at email@example.com or 907-308-4891.