Election day: Petersen leads Trombley; Evans edging Dougherty in early returns

Nathaniel Herz
Jess Rude slides her Municipality of Anchorage election ballot into an Accu-Vote machine as election volunteer Marilyn Gardner looks on at Turnagain Elementary School on Tuesday, April 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Eugene Chandler of Denali Group carries a polling place sign into Baxter Elementary School on Monday, April 31, 2014, in preparation for Tuesday's municipal election.
Bill Roth
East Anchorage assembly candidate Pete Petersen arrives at election central in the Dena'ina Center on Tuesday, April 1, 2014.
Bill Roth
Chase Comer of Denali Group sets up voting booths in the Baxter Elementary School polling place on Monday, April 31, 2014, in preparation for Tuesday's municipal election.
Bill Roth

Update 10:20 p.m.:  The bond package that would pay for renovations to the decrepit entrance to the Loussac Library, along with moving Mulcahy Stadium, and safety improvements at City Hall was the only measure failing in early returns. The vote was  17,146 against and 16,998 for with 91.2 percent of the vote counted. 

Update, 10:15 p.m.: A pair of tight Assembly contests were too close to call Tuesday evening, with challenger Pete Petersen leading incumbent Adam Trombley in East Anchorage by a few hundred votes out of nearly 7,000 cast, and conservative Bill Evans leading moderate Bruce Dougherty by an even closer margin in the race for an open seat in South Anchorage.

Four other Assembly seats and two positions on the Anchorage School Board appeared nearly certain to return to incumbent officeholders, with 114 of the city’s 122 precincts reporting late Tuesday.

More than 6,000 early votes and mail-in absentee ballots will be counted next week, according to Deputy Municipal Clerk Amanda Moser.

Eight of the nine propositions on the ballot — seven bond packages, and a pair of city charter amendments — appeared to be headed towards passage.

The one exception was the bond package that would pay for renovations to the decrepit entrance to the Loussac Library, along with moving Mulcahy Stadium, near the Sullivan Arena, and safety improvements at City Hall. The vote for that measure was split by less than 1 percent, with 15,916 voting to approve it, and 15,835 voting against.

Update, 9:45 p.m.: East Anchorage Assembly candidate Pete Petersen jumped to an initial lead over incumbent Adam Trombley on Tuesday evening, with 69 of the city’s 122 precincts reporting.

Petersen, a former Democratic legislator, had 41.6 percent of the vote, while Trombley had 36.8 percent, while a third candidate, community activist and former NFL football player Mao Tosi, had 21.4 percent.

In South Anchorage, conservative Bill Evans, an attorney, had 39.2 percent of the vote, while moderate Bruce Dougherty, a retired nursing home administrator and health facility inspector, had 37.5 percent.

A third candidate, conservative Pete Nolan, who works in advertising and marketing for a military publication, had 22.7 percent.

Deputy Municipal Clerk Amanda Moser said that there were over 6,000 mail-in absentee and early votes cast in the election, which won’t be counted until next week.

For all of the nine propositions on the ballot — seven bond packages, and a pair of city charter amendments — more than 50 percent of residents had voted to approve them.

Update, 8 p.m.: Polls have closed for Tuesday’s municipal election, in which Anchorage residents were voting candidates in to six open Assembly seats and two school board positions, as well as on nine ballot propositions.

Several polling places around the city reported turnout consistent with past city elections, which have averaged 20 percent in recent years when a mayoral race was not on the ballot.

City officials on Monday said they had received some 5,000 early votes and by-mail absentee ballots — which were being accepted through Tuesday evening. That was slightly ahead of last year’s total of 4,700.

The absentee and early votes will not be counted until next week, meaning the winners of tight races may not be known until then.

Results are expected to begin trickling in to City Hall shortly, with final tallies expected between 10:30 p.m. and midnight, election officials said Monday.

Previous story:

Voters on Tuesday will decide six of the 11 seats on the Anchorage Assembly, the city's legislative body, and two of the seven spots on the school board.

Residents will also approve or reject nine ballot propositions, including bonds to pay for school construction and renovations, improving parks and trails, and overhauling the decrepit entrance to the Loussac Library in Midtown.

Much of the energy -- and the money -- expended on the election has been directed at two key Assembly races, which could tip the balance of a body that's currently split 6 to 5, with the majority tending to back Mayor Dan Sullivan.

One of the races, in East Anchorage, pits incumbent Adam Trombley, who works in sales for a company that manages chemicals for the oil and gas industry, against Pete Petersen, the recently retired owner of a takeout food business and former Democratic state legislator.

That race has turned into an all-out war, with unions and business groups spending tens of thousands of dollars on a barrage of attack ads and mailers over the past few weeks -- in the process sidelining the campaign of Mao Tosi, a community activist, former NFL football player and political newcomer who's the third candidate in the district.

South Anchorage boasts a tight race of its own, which pits two conservative candidates, Bill Evans and Pete Nolan, against Bruce Dougherty, a self-described moderate.

None of the candidates have released any polls, leaving few clues to how the two races will turn out.

"The poll will be tomorrow, when people go to the polls," Nolan said in a phone interview Monday. "I think this one's going to be real close."

Turnout in recent non-mayoral election years has been roughly 20 percent, which would equate to 40,000 of the city's 200,000 registered voters.

The city has already received about 5,000 early and mailed-in absentee votes -- more than the 4,700 recorded last year. Those ballots won't be counted until next week, leaving open the possibility that Anchorage residents won't learn the results of any tight races until after Election Day.

The city's polling sites are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.; residents can look up their polling places at neighborhood.muni.org.

Same-day registration is not allowed, but residents unsure of their polling places can visit one of three different sites that will have all 42 versions of the city's ballots: Loussac Library, Anchorage International Airport and the University of Alaska Anchorage student union.

Several Assembly hopefuls said they spent Monday waving signs and making telephone calls, and expected to do more of the same Tuesday -- though as befits candidates for a part-time office, at least one, Evans, still managed to work at his day job on Monday.

The key bond propositions include $57 million for city schools, of which $22 million would be dedicated to an overhaul of Airport Heights Elementary. Sixty to 70 percent of the spending would be matched by the state.

A $5.5 million facilities bond would help pay to fix the Loussac Library entrance, as well as for a relocation of Mulcahy Stadium, and improvements at the Anchorage Golf Course.

A $20 million road bond would cover work on 16th Avenue, Lake Otis Parkway, Northwood Drive, Spruce Street and several other projects.

There are also a pair of proposals to amend the Anchorage charter, both of which require a simple 50 percent majority.

One would swap gender-neutral terms like "Assembly member" and "chair" into sections of the charter that currently refer to "Assemblyman" and "chairman."

Another would allow the Anchorage Police Department to use community service officers -- who cost the city lessthan patrol officers -- to enforce parking laws outside of the downtown area.

Community service officers did that enforcement until last year, when a state board stopped certifying them, Chief Mark Mew said in a video released by the department.

The charter amendment would allow community service officers to resume parking enforcement.

If the measure fails, Mew said, "it will cost more to provide the current level of service, or alternatively, we will have to provide less service to keep costs flat."

Reach Nathaniel Herz at nherz@adn.com or 257-4311.


City election results