A controversial candidate for mayor in Southwest Alaska has lost the race to the incumbent.
Long-time Lake and Peninsula Borough Mayor Glen Alsworth beat former state lawmaker George Jacko Jr. by a nearly 3-to-1 margin. Votes were counted on Monday night at the borough's office in King Salmon -- a community which, oddly enough, isn't in the borough.
Alsworth won with 345 votes to Jacko's 131. The number of Lake and Pen's 1190 registered voters may be small, but the race was an important one to the region. The borough is Pebble Mine area, and Jacko has actively campaigned against the project. Both sides pointed fingers and filed complaints to the Alaska Public Offices Commission alleging campaign abuses.
In the not-so-hidden shadows of the fight was the Pebble Mine, the mammoth proposed gold and copper mine that's slowly but surely becoming the focal point of a major, national environmental battle. Alsworth has been accused by mine opponents of supporting Pebble over salmon, though he hasn't endorsed or opposed the project. Jacko has been on the payroll of anti-mine proponent and Anchorage money manager Bob Gillam, who owns a private, sprawling lodge in the area.
Working for Gillam and being opposed to the project is likely not what caused Jacko to lose, however. Down-ballot mine opponents won. In the race for a Lake and Pen Assembly seat, Pebble opponent Christina Salmon beat incumbent Sue Anelon, who works for Iliamna Development Corp., which has contracts with the mining company.
Alsworth has a substantial financial relationship with Pebble Mine developers through his business Lake Clark Air.
In August, an Alaska Superior Court ordered both to "to immediately cease and desist from any and all uses of their official positions in the Lake and Peninsula Borough for personal or financial gain."
Still, Alsworth is a widely respected and beloved figure in the area. Jacko's political career, on the other hand took a dive many thought it never would, nor should, recover from. Through most of the 1990s, Jacko was dogged by scandal involving bizarre sexual harassment, ethical violations, and a criminal conviction for violating a restraining order barring him from contact with a 16-year-old girl.
Contact Amanda Coyne at Amanda(at)alaskadispatch.com
Correction: The borough as 1190 registered voters, and fewer that the 2000 full-time citizens that were originally reported.