Editor’s note: Ahead of the Oct. 6 municipal election, the Empire is publishing articles about how the vote-by-mail election will work, the propositions that will appear on ballots and races for Assembly and Board of Education seats. The Empire is also partnering with the League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization that does not endorse parties nor candidates. On Thursday, Friday and Sunday, you’ll find candidate bios and answers to six questions that the league developed in the Empire. In cooperation with the Empire and KTOO, the league will hold a virtual candidate forum at 7 p.m. on Sept. 16.
If the signs dotting roadsides and yards don’t give it away, the forthcoming information packets will — there’s a municipal election coming up.
People can expect to start receiving information packets for the city’s Oct. 6 election on Tuesday, Sept. 15, and sample ballots are already available online.
This year’s election will be conducted entirely by mail, but the City and Borough of Juneau will be setting up two Vote Centers, which will be open during normal voting hours, where people can drop their ballots off. Vote Centers will be in the Assembly Chambers at City Hall and at the Mendenhall Valley Public Library.
City staff will be on hand to assist voters with services including ballot drop-off but also requesting a new ballot or voter assistance. Secure drop boxes will be temporarily placed at the Douglas Community Building and Don D. Statter Harbor boat launch parking lot, according to CBJ election information.
Starting Sept. 21, City Hall will be open for voting services on weekdays 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and the Mendenhall Library 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The library will also be available for voting services on Saturdays, except Sept. 24 and Oct. 3, noon-4 p.m. Both centers will be open on municipal election day 7 a.m.-8 p.m.
Ballots will be counted this year with the assistance of the Municipality of Anchorage, according to City Clerk Beth McEwen, which in 2018 constructed a 10,000-square-foot elections center that houses ballot counting and verification machines. But that means the counting and verification process will take longer than usual, McEwen said.
The earliest preliminary results will be posted to City and Borough of Juneau’s website on Friday, Oct. 9, according to the city. Final results will be shared after the CBJ Canvass Review Board reviews the election on Tuesday, Oct. 20. The work may take up to three days.
The city manager’s office is working on a voter brochure that will include detailed information on the two ballot propositions before voters. Proposition 1 asks voters whether or not a Charter Commission be established to review and amend the City Charter, CBJ’s foundational document. The Charter itself states the question be put to voters once every 10 years since CBJ’s founding in 1970.
Juneau voters have never approved a Charter Commission in the four elections the question’s been presented. Amendments to the charter do not have to be made through the commission, McEwen said, but must be put to a vote of the people. The city charter and a history of its amendments can be found at the city website.
Proposition 2 is a $15 million bond proposal, most of which will go to repairing school roofs. That package will affect Juneau’s property tax rate but exactly how is difficult to say, according to City Manager Rorie Watt.
Speaking to the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce Thursday, Watt said how much Juneauites end up paying depends in large part on how much the state reimburses the city for past school bond debt. More detailed information will be provided in a voter information packet sent out roughly Sept. 9, Watt said.
While the charter gives the Assembly fairly broad authority to enact changes for the City and Borough of Juneau the one thing they cannot do, according to municipal attorney Robert Palmer, is change the time zone.
Voters will vote to fill three Assembly seats this election but one of them, an areawide seat currently held Deputy Mayor Maria Gladziszewski, is uncontested. The deputy mayor is selected by the Mayor and the Assembly after the election according to Watt.
Incumbent Alicia Hughes-Skandijs will defend her District 1 seat against Kenny Soloman-Gross, the only challenger for the district covering all of Douglas Island, downtown, Lemon Creek and the airport.
The District 2 seat, however, has four candidates vying for it, none of whom are the incumbent. The seat’s current occupant, Assembly member Rob Edwardson, is not seeking re-election. District 2 covers the Mendenhall Valley, Auke Bay and neighborhoods north of the ferry terminal.
Lacey Derr, Derek Dzinich, Robert Shoemake and Christine Woll are all competing for the seat.
Two seats on the Juneau School District Board of Education are open as well and after a third candidate dropped out, the two remaining candidates, current School Board President Brian Holst and past candidate Martin Stepetin Sr. are running uncontested.
Current school board member Jeff Short did not seek re-election.
Election questions or concerns?
Additional voter information, including sample ballots and voter-assistance information, is available at the city’s election website: juneau.org/clerk/elections.
People can contact the CBJ Election Center at 364-7401 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.