MAT-SU — The first day of October functioned as Election day in the Mat-Su Valley as Houston, Palmer and Wasilla had their city council elections.
As of 8:29 p.m., Paul Stout and Dawnita Brunswick had both retained their council seats. Brunswick won seat E with 95% of the votes for seat E, running unopposed. Stout received 61 votes and challenger Jerika George received 44 votes. The race for seat G was close as of Friday’s Canvas Board where election officials counted the remaining questioned, absentee and by mail ballots. Kristen Rowe maintained a six-vote lead going into Friday and came out with the same margin. Rowe received 54 votes, good for 51.4 percent of the total votes cast. Jessica Briles received 48 votes.
The ballot question on whether to enact a 2.25 mills plastic bag had entered Friday set to pass, with the yes votes carrying a three-vote lead. The 15 additional ballots considered by the Canvas Board flipped the tally. Houston residents voted yes 54 times (49.1 percent) and voted no 58 times, (50.9 percent.).
“I am happy to serve the city of Houston. It’s something that I really enjoy doing and I’m happy that I got re-elected,” said Brunswick. “Because I didn’t have anybody running against me I’m feeling for the other candidates, especially when it is a close race.”
Brunswick was disappointed, as many candidates were on Tuesday, about the lack of voter turnout for municipal elections. Brunswick said she would like to see Houston move their elections to November to coincide with the Borough election date. Less than 10 percent of registered voters turned out in the city of Houston.
“I wanted to help shape the direction that the city of Houston is going and I don’t think that someone can complain about heir town or their situation without actually doing something about it. For me, it’s getting involved with the city council and if there is an opportunity for us to get a police force with the marijuana money, I’m going to push for that. It’s all about transparency and making sure that the people in the city of Houston actually know what’s going on,” said Brunswick.
Houston will not become the third city in the Valley to enact a plastic bag ban.
“Our numbers choose freedom from government perhaps. Inherently free, of which I stand watch. It’s an honor to serve the City of Houston,” said Rowe.
The city of Wasilla also had two open council seats. James Harvey won his bid for re-election with 78 votes for seat F. A total of five write-in votes were cast for seat F. Nikki Velock won seat G with 75 votes. A total of four write-in votes were cast for seat E. Velock replaces councilwoman Gretchen O’Barr and was excited to have won on Tuesday night.
”I was excited. I was, of course, running unopposed. I was just hoping Mickey Mouse wouldn’t get more votes than me,” said Velock.
Velock is a product of the University of Alaska Anchorage and worked at MTA in her professional career. Velock had been serving on the Planning Commission for the city of Wasilla.
”The local level of government, it doesn’t really matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. We all just have the same concerns about public safety and getting the necessary services we need,” said Velock.
Harvey has been encouraged by the actions of the council as of late, and hopes to have the city completely out of debt within the next two years. Harvey also noted that he is in favor of the path of forward funding the city has taken to spend its money wisely.
”Me and Nikki were both unopposed which made it an easy election obviously, but at the same time it’s a little disheartening. I’d like to see a little more participation,” said Harvey.