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By Dan Rudy 

Municipal elections to be held on Tuesday

 


Polls will open for Wrangell’s regular municipal elections this Tuesday. Candidates have filed for all available seats, with several positions in contest.

Among those open to the polls this year are two three-year seats on the City and Borough Assembly. Incumbents David Powell and Becky Rooney have both filed to run again, and Christie Jamieson last week announced her intention to run as a write-in candidate.

Jamieson had previously served as Wrangell’s City Clerk from 1997 to 2012. Rooney has been on the Assembly since her election to an unexpired term last October. Powell has been on the council since his appointment in February.

Because of the borough’s electoral rules, current clerk Kim Lane explained the two candidates with the highest number of votes will be elected to the open seats.

The canvas board will meet at city hall on Oct. 8 at 1 p.m. to tally the results. Because Jamieson is running as a write-in, staff will have to hand-count the ballots. The proceedings are open to the public. The canvassers’ results then head to the Assembly for review and certification.

“The Assembly finalizes that at their special meeting on Oct. 12,” Lane said. Originally set for noon, the certification meeting has been rescheduled to 12:30 p.m. that day, at City Hall.

A pair of full terms and an unexpired one-year term on the School Board are also in contest Tuesday. Local parent Rolland Howell will be running against incumbents Tamara Groshong and Aleisha Mollen for the two three-year terms.

As in the case of the Assembly seats, the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes between the three will be elected to the board. The one-year term will be contested on the ballot by candidates Beth Comstock and Pam McCloskey.

Comstock previously worked for the school district’s meal program under its contract with NANA Management. In June the board chose not to renew the arrangement this year, withdrawing from the National School Lunch Program and implementing a scaled-down meal service of its own. McCloskey had served on the Assembly until she resigned in January.

Incumbents John Martin and Clay Hammer have also filed to retain two three-year seats on the Port Commission. On the Wrangell Medical Center Board, Woody Wilson and Maxlyn Wiederspohn are running for re-election to its two open seats. Mayor David Jack appointed Wiederspohn last month to fill the vacancy left by Dorothy Hunt-Sweat, who decided not to run for re-election.

Following the election, a number of board- and commission-level appointments will need to be made. These include two seats on the Planning and Zoning Commission, two seats on the Parks and Recreation Board, one seat on the Wrangell Convention and Visitors Bureau, three seats on the Economic Development Committee and two seats on the Nolan Museum/Civic Center Board.

Those still wanting to run as a write-in candidate need to submit an application to

the Borough Clerk’s office

during regular business hours by Oct. 2. All applicants must be United States citizens at least 18 years of age, a resident of Wrangell and able to

have voted in the state for at least 30 days before the election.

Two propositions will also appear on October’s ballot. The first is an amendment to Wrangell’s Home Rule Charter, which asks: “Shall the Home Rule Charter of the City and Borough of Wrangell be amended to repeal Section 11-2, Thomas Bay Power Authority, as set forth in Ordinance no. 900?”

The proposition was approved for inclusion on the ballot by the Assembly in April, and is considered a housekeeping change, eliminating

reference to the former Thomas Bay Power Authority. Operations of the Tyee hydropower facility were

transferred from the authority to Southeast Alaska Power Agency in July 2014, and the authority’s board has since been dissolved.

Proposition 2 asks: “Shall the municipal officers and

candidates for elective office of the City and Borough of Wrangell be exempt from the requirements of the State of Alaska Public Official Financial Disclosure Law, AS 39.50?”

In May the Assembly unanimously approved the proposition’s inclusion on the ballot after a pair of public hearings. Currently, the mayor, city

manager, and members of

the Assembly, School Board and Planning and Zoning

were required to file financial

disclosures under state

statute.

Assembly members raised concerns the documentation was too intrusive into the financial assets of applicants for public office. It was said that exemption from the requirement might boost residents’ involvement in local government.

Lane explained a community’s exemption is not uncommon in the state. On whether it needs to draw up and adopt financial disclosure forms of its own, the city sought the

opinion of its attorney on retainer, Hoffman & Blasco in Juneau.

“The attorney said that no, they didn’t think it was necessary,” Lane recounted.

Polls open at the Nolan Center at 8 a.m. Tuesday, and close at 8 p.m. Residents are asked to bring along their voter registration cards or some form of identification. When making their selections, voters are cautioned to take care how they fill out their ballots. Picking more candidates than available seats for a category can result in the ballot not counting.

The cut-off for absentee voting is at 5 p.m. Monday. Ballots need to be received at City Hall by then in order to be counted.

 

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