Anchorage — Early returns in Anchorage's city election showed a surprising number of people voting for a write-in candidate over incumbent Assembly chairman Ernie Hall.
Hall had no challenger on the ballot. But Nick Moe, a staff member of the Alaska Center for the Environment, launched a write-in campaign against Hall late in the race.
Moe said he was motivated by Hall's handling of public testimony for a labor ordinance approved by the Assembly in March that strips power from city unions.
With more than a third of the precincts counted, Hall was slightly ahead of "write-in." The write-ins don't get counted by name unless the total exceeds Hall's vote.
In a second West Anchorage Assembly race, Tim Steele, a former School Board member, was ahead of Cheryl Frasca in early returns.
Mayor Dan Sullivan had endorsed Frasca, who retired as his city budget director.
The Midtown Assembly race between incumbent Dick Traini and Andy Clary -- another candidate Sullivan supported -- was close.
In Eagle River-Chugiak, Amy Demboski led Pete Mulcahy.
Two other incumbent Assembly members, Paul Honeman and Jennifer Johnston, were unopposed.
In two School Board races, former legislator Eric Croft was a clear favorite for one seat, and Bettye Davis was ahead of incumbent Don Smith for the second seat.
With a lead of thousands of votes, Croft wasn't ready to declare victory midway into Tuesday's counting.
He said he understands the School District's need for budget discipline, but wouldn't want to dismantle unions.
"I support people's right to organize and we need to bargain in good faith. But we need to count every penny as well," Croft said.
Lisa Demer contributed to this story. Reach Rosemary Shinohara at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4340.