Preliminary results show DeVries is next Mat-Su Borough mayor as conservatives appear to sweep

Palmer Mayor Edna DeVries was leading the three-way borough mayor’s race by a wide margin and an incumbent assembly member faced possible defeat after Mat-Su polls closed Tuesday, according to preliminary local election results.

Voters also apparently approved a $61 million transportation bond proposition, with more than 8,300 votes in favor and more than 4,800 votes against.

Just 15% of the borough’s eligible voters cast ballots in the election, according to the borough clerk’s office.

Borough elections are nonpartisan, but these races come with political overtones. Every candidate leading in unofficial results was named on a “Best Conservatives” list endorsed by several Mat-Su Republican groups.

DeVries led her closest competitor, former assembly member and Palmer business owner Matthew Beck, by more than 4,000 votes, Mat-Su Borough election results showed. Former Wasilla mayor Bert Cottle, who dropped out of the race during chemotherapy treatments and then got back in 12 days before the election, lagged behind them both.

As of Wednesday morning, DeVries had received about 7,600 votes, Beck about 3,500, and Cottle 2,000, according to unofficial borough election results.

Borough elections officials still need to count more than 2,100 absentee ballots and another 164 questioned ballots. Those votes aren’t likely to change the mayor’s race results given DeVries’ lead.

The borough mayor has limited powers, though they can vote to break an assembly tie, introduce legislation and veto assembly decisions. The mayor runs assembly meetings and represents the borough at events. Outgoing Mayor Vern Halter, a Willow dog musher and tourism business owner, is term-limited out.

Three assembly seats and two school board seats were also on the ballot.

In a Susitna Valley assembly district, construction business and kennel owner Ron Bernier held a more than 450-vote lead over incumbent assembly member and Willow resident Tamara Boeve, according to preliminary results. Bernier campaigned on conservative platforms like Second Amendment support and a full Permanent Fund dividend.

Incumbent Jesse Sumner was leading two challengers by a wide margin. Dolores McKee, wife of outgoing assembly member George McKee, led challenger Mark Bailey by more than 750 votes.

Incumbent school board member Thomas Bergey appeared to retain his seat. Jubilee Underwood, a school board candidate who campaigned on an anti-masking platform, led challenger Jennifer Walther by more than 430 votes.

The borough canvass board will verify results and review voter eligibility before a review board counts the confirmed ballots. The election certification is scheduled for Nov. 16.

Zaz Hollander

Longtime ADN reporter Zaz Hollander is based in the Mat-Su and is currently focused on coverage of the coronavirus in Alaska. She also covers the Mat-Su region, aviation and general assignments. Contact her at