Mayor, council seat to be decided in Nov. 1 runoff
Two local races are headed to a Nov. 1 runoff election in Unalaska, after nobody gained the 40 percent needed to win. The election apparently set a record for voter turnout thanks to two five-way races and the marijuana referendum where voters approved commercial pot sales.
"I'm almost positive it's a record," said City Clerk Cat Hazen. And what makes it even more unusual is that it happened in a local election, since previous high turnouts were in the low 600s over the past 20 years, and were recorded during statewide and national elections, she said. Over 670 votes were counted last week.
The city council's anti-commercial pot ordinance was repealed by 54 percent of the voters, for a tally of 326 to 274.
Incumbent Mayor Shirley Marquardt, with 266 votes for 39.6 percent of the vote, will defend her seat against city councilor an ex-mayor Frank V. Kelty, who placed second with 193 votes for 28.8 percent in the five-way race. Chris Price was third, with 92 votes for 13.7 percent, followed by Vincent M. Tutiakoff Sr. with 75 votes and Ralph Harvey with 40. There were five write-ins.
City council incumbent Roger Rowland, with 249 votes for 38.5 percent faces a challenge from second-place finisher Jeff Treannie, who received 157 votes for 24.3 percent. Darin Nicholson placed third with 84 votes for 13 percent. Kennie Bezold was fourth with 72 votes for 11.1 percent. Richard M. Campbell trailed with 71 votes. There were 13 write-ins.
Both Marquardt and Rowland will remain in office until their future is determined by voters in the runoff election, said Hazen.
Marquardt works for Samson Tug and Barge. Kelty retired last year as the city's natural resource analyst, a lobbyist position since eliminated as he could perform many of the same duties as a council member, including going to out-of-town fisheries meetings. Kelty was the first and only analyst, a position that was essentially created for him at the urging of Marquardt when she served on the city council, when his crab manager job at Alyeska Seafoods was eliminated about 15 years ago.
The natural resource analyst position was replaced in the city budget with a geographic information specialist in the planning department, at the request of City Manager David Martinson.
Rowland is a commercial salmon fisherman, and Treannie is a mechanic for American President Lines, and owner of the Island Grind espresso shack.
In the other contested council race, incumbent David M. Gregory defeated Killian Baker, 436 votes to 192. John J. Waldron was elected without opposition to the council seat he was appointed to earlier in the year.
Hazen said the last runoff election was in 2007, when David Gregory defeated Randal Baker for a city council seat.
In the one school board contest, incumbent Denise M. Rankin survived a challenge from Harriet M. Berikoff, with 55.3 percent and 344 votes, to Berikoff's 270 votes. Frank V. Kelty and Cherry Tan were returned to the school board without opposition.
On Tuesday, 626 votes were counted. The absentee and questioned ballots were tallied Friday morning. Of the 28 questioned ballots, only three were accepted by state election officials in Nome, according to Hazen, who said 25 were disqualified for various reasons, including not being registered to vote, registered to vote somewhere else, or not registering in time for the local election. For absentee ballots, 44 were on hand Friday morning, including three that were mailed and returned. Another eight absentee ballots mailed to potential voters were not returned in time.
When the city council voted 4-3 to ban marijuana commercialization, Marquardt and Kelty and Rowland were in the majority, with the mayor casting the deciding vote. Gregory supported local sales, commercial growing, testing and the manufacture of cannabis cookies and other edibles.
Jim Paulin can be reached at email@example.com.