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With about 40% of the vote counted in the City and Borough of Juneau’s municipal election and more results expected next week, candidates in contested races are eyeing the unofficial returns and looking to the future.

Current school board president Elizabeth “Ebett” Siddon is the top vote-getter across contested races and enjoys solid leads across all precincts.

In a Saturday morning phone interview, she reported “cautious optimism” that she’ll serve a second term.

“The trends are encouraging. I feel confident about the trends as I look across precincts. I hope that stays consistent,” Siddon said.

Siddon said she’s looking forward to putting the campaign season in the rearview mirror, but she’s glad the campaign sparked a community conversation about COVID-19 mitigation measures.

“If the trends in the preliminary results continue, it’s confirmation that our goal of keeping kids in the classroom is the right thing and it lets us move on to the academics,” she said.

[City clerk releases unofficial election results]

Amber Frommherz currently sits in second place for a seat on the school board with 2,894 votes and solid support across all precincts.

“I feel super. I’m excited. I’m still hopeful. If anything, I’m humbled and thankful for all the support I got,” Frommherz said in a Saturday morning phone call.

She said the campaign was not a “one-man show” and that she appreciated all the people who had helped along the way.

“I’m looking forward to serving the community even more. It’s very moving to have Juneau’s support. I’ve been here 7 years and I still feel new. This solidifies that this is my children’s home,” she added.

School board barn burner?

Ibn Bailey is currently occupying the third-place spot with 1,269 votes. If it holds, he will take the third open seat on the board.

“I’d like to say that while we won’t know the official result for another week or so, I would like to say thank you and respect to everyone that stepped up to run for the assembly and school board,” Bailey said in a Saturday morning email to the Empire.

Aaron Spratt currently occupies the fourth place spot with 993 votes. On Saturday morning, he said he was happy with his campaign but disappointed with the results so far.

“I’m proud of the campaign and proud that we stayed on message. It’s encouraging to have the community support we did. Our message resonated, and I really wanted to serve,” he said. “I’m really happy that people had a choice with the plethora of candidates that were running. It’s good to have a choice.”

Spratt said he hopes the incoming board listens to the parents as they continue their work.

Spratt shared some signage with fellow candidates Thomas Buzard and Wiljordan Sangster, who currently have 799 and 595 votes, respectively. Neither could be reached for comment Saturday morning.

The school board race also features two write-in candidates, Kyle Scholl and Will Muldoon.

In a Saturday morning text, Scholl said it was difficult to tell where the final votes may land before the clerk’s office counted the write-in ballots.

“Looks like it could be a very tight race,” he said.

Muldoon said that he also is waiting on write-in ballots noting that the tabulation process counts the candidates that appeared on the ballot before turning to write-ins, which extends the timeline to identify winners.

“I think the early returns for President Siddon and Ms. Frommherz are great to see and I’m optimistic that I’ll have a good turnout in one week’s time,” Muldoon said via text Saturday morning.

[Shortages and shipping snarls complicate local projects]

City Assembly race starts to settle

Election officials are still counting votes for the two open City Assembly seats, with competitive races in both districts.

In District 2, incumbent Assembly Member Michelle Bonnet Hale is likely to win a second, three-year term on the CBJ Assembly with 3,017 votes compared to 1,239 for first-time candidate Kelly Fishler.

“I am really pleased to see where we are at,” Hale said in a Saturday morning call, noting that her lead over Fishler would likely be challenging for Fishler to overcome. “I’m pleased that I’m prevailing in all precincts.”

Hale said she is happy to have an opportunity to continue the work of the assembly and thanked Fishler for running a “clean and respectful” campaign.

“The Assembly has its work cut out for us. I’m grateful to Juneau,” she said.

Fishler expressed gratitude, too.

“I am grateful to everyone who voted for me in this election, and I am so thankful to everyone who helped me with the campaign,” Fishler said in an email to the Empire Saturday.

In Assembly District 1’s three-person race, Barbara ‘Wáahlaal Gíidaak Blake, who is the Director of the Alaska Native Policy Center, is leading the pack. She currently has 2,516 votes and leads in each precinct.

“First I want to say Haw’aa, Gunalchéesh to all those who voted for me and the work of our municipal clerk. Our campaign team worked hard until the very last minute,” Blake said in an email statement.

She also expressed caution as more than half of the votes still need to be counted.

“Thanks to my opponents for ensuring Juneau had a solid slate to choose from. I’m definitely excited about this strong early lead, but we still have 60% to count. I’m hopeful this lead will carry through all the remaining votes.”

District 1 City Assembly candidate and current front-runner Barbara ‘Wáahlaal Gíidaak Blake, celebrates the first round of returns with her son Nathan, left, and her fiance, Brian Fell on Oct. 8. (Courtesy photo/Konrad Frank)

Other District 1 candidates include outgoing school board member Paul Kelly, with 1,164 votes, and first-time candidate Troy Wuyts-Smith, who currently has 447 votes.

Kelly said that he’s still watching returns.

“With 40% in, I’m not ready to call it,” he said by phone Saturday. “But, we will see where things go.”

Kelly said that he’s proud of his campaign — and no matter the outcome — he’s committed to public service and plans to pursue elected office in the future.

“Regardless of how things shape up, I ran a strong campaign. I’m the only candidate who knocked on doors, and I’m proud of that,” Kelly said, noting that he called on 1,700 houses.

Wuyts-Smith said he was feeling good, even if the numbers weren’t adding up in his favor so far.

“We all knew Barbara was the front-runner from the very beginning. We were always in an uphill battle,” he said. “My campaign message was ‘mental health matters’— acknowledging it as a public health crisis and declaring a state of emergency to address this crisis. Win or lose, my message got across, and I’m proud that I ran a positive campaign.”

Wuyts-Smith said that his 447 votes represent votes he didn’t have before the election—and that he’s still counting.

“We are still expecting to pick up more votes, so at this point, it’s just the waiting game,” he said.

More to come

City Clerk Beth McEwen said that counting will resume Monday, Oct. 11, and more results will be posted as they are available.

Juneau’s ballots are counted in Anchorage 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.

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.

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 turnout since 2000.

With 40% of the vote counted, and 4,552 votes tallied, turnout is trending toward 11,400 votes.

• Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com or 907-308-4891.