Even procrastinators can be civically active, and polling stations around Anchorage remained open until 8 p.m. on municipal election night to accommodate last-minute votes.
“If they don’t know, I’ll inform them what we’re voting on and why it’s important,” Anchorage resident Georgia Farnsworth explained as she staked out the Z.J. Loussac Library polling station last Tuesday, donning giant yellow novelty spectacles and an outlandish two-foot-tall hairdo.
Farnsworth said she had been working hard since polls opened on March 17 to get people to vote, and was having fun doing it.
Anchorage carpenter Dan Myers of Spenard came to cast his ballot in support of education, voting absentee at the Loussac, where voter turnout had been higher than expected.
“It’s important for me to elect school board members that are supported by the union,” Myers said.
Unofficial results, to be certified on April 15 after the counting of thousands of absentee and questioned ballots, have incumbents Pat Higgins and Kameron Perez-Verdia holding onto Anchorage School Boards C and D, respectively.
Perez-Verida challenger and former School Board member Don Smith gathered over 14,000 votes, despite his recent comments attributing problems with Anchorage schools to immigration, calling Anchorage a “refugee city.”
“We can’t tell all these people to go back to Africa or go back to Indonesia or wherever they’ve been imported from,” Smith said in an interview with Daysha Eaton of Alaska Public Media days before the elections.
In-person absentee voting was also offered in the UAA Student Union on election day.
“Our school board is a little bit messed up, and we need good leadership. It could use a little more controversy to move it in the right direction,” said UAA junior Hope Meyn.
Four of the six Anchorage Assembly seats up for vote appear to have gone to the incumbents, with Midtown’s Elvi Gray-Jackson running unchallenged for control of her District 4 seat.
In the South Anchorage District 6 race, conservative Bill Evans had edged out the more moderate Bruce Dougherty by the end of the night, but the biggest upset came with the apparent defeat of East Anchorage assembly member Adam Trombley by former state representative Pete Petersen.
If the more liberal Petersen is elected, the Anchorage Assembly will see a power balance shift away from one that had trended more conservative.
Former NFL player and Northway Mall manager Mao Tosi also ran for the District 6 seat, winning 20 percent of the vote despite being plagued with allegations of campaign violations.
“We need to get the right assembly member in office, someone who can better the community,” said UAA senior Balogun Bishop, who is represented in the East Anchorage district.
Eight of the nine propositions onballot had passed by comfortable margins on Monday night, but Proposition 3, a $5.5 million capital improvements bond that would have gone partially to renovations at the Loussac Library had been voted down by a margin of less than one percentage point.
Voters did approve an over $57 million bond for educational capital improvements, including dramatic improvements to Airport Heights Elementary School among other things.
Other notable propositions were Proposition 8, an amendment to the city charter to replace gender-specific with gender-neutral terms, and Proposition 9, an amendment allowing the Anchorage Police Department to enforce parking regulations outside of downtown with employees of the APD other than fully sworn officers.
Voter turnout for Monday’s elections fell just below 20 percent.