Anchorage voters go to the polls Tuesday to choose six Assembly members and two School Board members, and to decide on four bond propositions and three other issues.
Polling places will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Behind the scenes, the new city election director has made a number of changes to make sure the city doesn't experience the ballot shortages and other problems that plagued last year's city election.
The decisions in Assembly races could leave conservative Mayor Dan Sullivan with a significant majority that is aligned philosophically, at least much of the time, with his views. Or not.
Four of the six Assembly races are contested:
• In Eagle River and Chugiak, Amy Demboski, Pete Mulcahy and Bob Lupo are competing for the seat being vacated by Debbie Ossiander. Sullivan endorsed Demboski, and Ossiander endorsed Mulcahy. Both Demboski and Mulcahy say they generally support the direction Sullivan is leading the city.
• In West Anchorage, Ernie Hall, who helped the mayor push through an ordinance that reduces the power of city unions, is unopposed on the ballot for Seat D. But Nick Moe launched a write-in campaign late in the race.
Also in West Anchorage, Cheryl Frasca, Tim Steele and Phil Isley are in the race for a seat recently vacated by Harriet Drummond, who is now serving in the Legislature. Frasca was Sullivan's budget director, and Steele is a former School Board member.
• In Midtown, conservative Andy Clary is taking on incumbent Dick Traini.
Paul Honeman in East Anchorage and Jennifer Johnston in South Anchorage are unopposed.
On the School Board, the members are not elected by district, but represent the entire city.
Voters pick one candidate for each of two seats.
School Board candidates are incumbent Don Smith and former state Sen. Bettye Davis for Seat A and Eric Croft, Stephanie Cornwell-George and David Nees for Seat B.
The four bond propositions are for schools, roads, parks and a combination of public safety and public transportation items.
There are three issues on the citywide ballot in addition to the bonds:
• Proposition 5 would let the city trade about half an acre of city parkland in the Campbell Creek Greenbelt to the state for half an acre of adjacent land. The trade would be to give the state land it needs for an upgrade of West Dowling Road.
• Proposition 6 would change the city charter to specify that Assembly terms would be three years. This issue came up when the Assembly was considering ways to redistrict last year due to population shifts.
The charter currently says if the Assembly decides to have 11 single member districts, each member would sit for re-election every two years. Otherwise terms are three years. No one can explain the logic behind the two-year terms.
• Proposition 7 would allow the city to change boundaries of service areas without a majority vote of the affected service areas voters.
This change would put the city in line with 2007 changes to state statutes that allow parcels to be added from a service area, like a road service area, without a vote if the service area provides the only access to the parcels; or for a parcel to be removed from a service area without a vote if the parcel does not provide needed access.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Last year's city election was rife with problems. Some precincts ran out of ballots and couldn't reach election workers to get more, and voters scrambled to find another location to vote at, or just went home.
The deputy clerk who handled election duties was fired and the city clerk later resigned. The Assembly hired an independent investigator to examine what went wrong.
New deputy clerk Amanda Moser and clerk Barbara Jones made some changes this year.
Moser revamped the training program for the 600 or so election workers to allow more one-on-one time. Instead of training groups of 150 election workers at once, this year there were 40 at a time.
The clerk's office ordered more ballots this year. It has hired more troubleshooters. Instead of 12 troubleshooters, there are 20 who can run to a polling place if there are problems.
And, election workers will be able to call Moser, Jones, and some other clerk's office staff members directly if needed. Last year the election workers didn't have direct access.
HOW, WHEN, WHERE
• Some precinct boundaries changed for this election due to Assembly redistricting last year.
• For write-in votes, a voter must fill in the oval next to the words "write-in", and write in the name of the person. Write-in votes are only counted if they outnumber the vote totals of a candidate on the ballot.
• No absentee or early ballots will be counted on election night, Moser said. Some of those ballots have been tallied election night in the past. But Moser and Jones said they want to be sure to follow the complicated procedures set out in code, so will count them later.
The date has yet to be set. But the election is scheduled to be certified April 16.
• If a voter can't get to their precinct on election day, there are three locations where people can vote, that will have ballots for every precinct: Anchorage International Airport, the lower level of the domestic terminal; University of Alaska Anchorage, the campus center; and Z.J. Loussac Library. These three stations will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• The city will host Election Central beginning at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center. Results will also be posted at muni.org.
Reach Rosemary Shinohara at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4340.
By ROSEMARY SHINOHARA