MAT-SU — Early Election Day results were posted on Tuesday night, but the final winners of city Council seats in Houston, Palmer and Wasilla are yet to be determined with outstanding absentee by mail, early, questioned and special needs ballots yet to be counted. Wasilla results were posted late Tuesday night.
In Palmer, conservative candidates took the early lead on Election night. Current councilman Steve Carrington received more Election Day votes than any candidate with 231. First-time candidate Pamela Melin also is currently in line for a council seat with 222 votes.
“Feeling pretty good but I mean you can’t really count it until everything is counted,” said Carrington. “We’ll know more on Friday.”
The city of Palmer reported 390 ballots that were cast on Tuesday and another 319 have yet to be reported. Current councilwoman Julie Berberich received 144 votes and candidate Lee Henrikson received 126 votes. The voter turnout in Palmer was 14.2 % with 709 of the 4,986 registered voters casting ballots in the 2021 election. There are 186 early ballots, 124 absentee by mail, seven early and poll questioned ballots and two early and poll special needs ballots that remain.
“Feeling good, I’m feeling pretty confident but you know of course we’ve got the early votes that are out there that have yet to be counted,” said Melin. “I’m actually really glad that it’s over. I’m glad that I don’t regret, not one bit getting involved because I feel like it is my duty. I do feel like we ran a very, very clean, positive campaign. We tried to, regardless of the vitriol that was kind of thrown our way, but I feel like we ran a nice good clean campaign. We had a lot of really good solid counsel and I just, we’re hoping for the best outcome and I’m ready to get to work provided that we stay on top, just very excited for the city and very excited that people came out.”
In the city of Houston, eight candidates ran for three available council seats. There were 136 votes cast on Election Day. There were also 34 early, absentee by mail, questioned and special needs ballots cast that are yet to be counted. First-time candidate Cole Carter holds a 19-vote lead over Shanie Heger for Council seat C. Carter received 63 votes while Heger received 44 and Ron Bass received 31 votes.
“My neighbors are the ones that really pushed me into it, so I’ve got to give them the credit for getting it done. Me, I’m just going to serve the neighbors,” said Carter. “I never like to count chickens before they hatch.”
Lance Wilson is leading Tony Kuse by eight votes for council seat D. Wilson received 70 votes while Kuse received 62 votes. In the race for seat G, Mike Adams currently leads by 23 votes over current Councilwoman Gina Jorgensen. David Johnson also received 23 votes.
“I feel good about it, I’m excited. I think the people of Houston are ready for some change and I’m feeling real good about it,” said Adams.
In Wasilla, 375 voters turned out to the polls on Election Day and 189 provisional ballots are yet to be counted. Former Deputy Mayor Stu Graham holds a 107 vote lead over first-time candidate Dajonee Hale for Council seat B.
“I was just gratified that number one, people got out to vote because there’s not much on the ballot and number two, that they saw the value in returning an experienced council member to the council,” said Graham. “I would always like to see more people get out to vote and get involved in local elections because local elections are where the rubber meets the road. That’s where everything starts, you know you’ve got community councils and then you’ve got city councils and then you move up to the Borough and up to the state, so things start at the local level and we need to be more involved at the local level and one of the biggest ways to be involved is to learn the issues and get out and vote.”
Graham received 143 votes to 36 for Hale. Former District 7 Representative Colleen Sullivan-Leonard also holds a large lead over current councilman Jordan Rausa, who was appointed to seat A. Sullivan-Leonard received 128 votes to 55 for Rausa. Just 7.6 % of registered voters in Wasilla turned out to cast their ballots in person or via absentee ballots. Graham was excited to return to the council after less than a year’s hiatus alongside former Wasilla City Councilwoman Sullivan-Leonard with experience in the Alaska House of Representatives.
“I think it will be helpful to have folks on the council that are experienced with helping run the government, so I think it’ll make the Mayor’s job easier, make it easier for the mayor to get things done and make the council a little bit more effective you know since you’ve got people on there that have been on the train before and know what the schedule is and know how to make things work and keep things moving so I just think it’s a good deal all around. It’s good for the council, it’s good for the mayor, it’s good for the employees, it’s good for the citizens,” said Graham.