PALMER — Two school board members appear to have won reelection Tuesday in Matanuska-Susitna Borough voting that also saw an incumbent assembly member from Big Lake facing an apparent loss and a road funding package receiving wide support, according to preliminary results available Wednesday.
In the school board races, incumbent member Kathy McCollum led District 3 challenger Sydney Zuyus 995 votes to 484, according to unofficial borough results that don’t include all votes cast. In District 5, longtime incumbent Ole Larson led challenger Dianne Shibe, 1,125 to 826.
Preliminary results do not include about 1,600 absentee ballots and about 360 questioned ballots that have yet to be tallied, borough officials said. The assembly will certify the election on Nov. 21.
Considered nonpartisan, the school board contest was the focus of a contentious debate sparked by a series of school board decisions ranging from a new policy blocking transgender students from using the bathroom of their choice to new limits for the board’s student representative.
In the borough assembly races, District 5 incumbent and Big Lake contractor Clayton “Mokie” Tew appeared to be losing his seat to challenger Bill Gamble, with the preliminary tally at 751 to 529 as of Wednesday. Gamble previously worked as fire chief for Big Lake and West Lakes departments before taking over as the borough’s emergency services director in 2015. He resigned from that role in 2017.
In District 6, which includes northwest Wasilla, incumbent Dmitri Fonov appeared to beat out a series of challengers with 1,021 votes. Jackson Abney received 179, Kerby Coman received 227 and Stafford Glashan received 426 as of Wednesday.
In District 4, which includes the city of Wasilla, incumbent Rob Yundt ran unopposed.
Boroughwide, a majority of voters approved a bond package that provides half of the funding for $76 million in area road and pedestrian walkway improvements. The measure will only result in work if the state agrees to provide the other half of the money.
Tuesday’s election was the first after the borough assembly last year voted to end all voting machine counting and hand-count ballots instead.
Voter turnout Tuesday was less than 10% across the borough, according to preliminary results, compared to about 18% in 2021, the last year in which no statewide races were on the ballot.
Separately, District 5 school board representative Jacob Butcher, first elected last year, resigned from his role Tuesday, district officials said.
Residents interested in assuming Butcher’s seat can submit an application to the school board by Nov. 22. The board will vote on a replacement during a special session Dec. 6 ahead of the regular school board meeting. Applicants must live in District 5, which includes Big Lake, and will serve in the role until next year’s regular November election.