Voters approve Petersburg Borough formation
Tuesday evening, the Alaska Division of Elections posted the unofficial results of the Petersburg Borough election, which shows the yes votes winning by 108 votes. The borough question was approved by a 10% margin with 55% approving the measure. Preliminary tallies showed 584 yes votes to 476 no.
At the time of the results posting 1,068 of the 2,623 registered voters’ ballots had been counted for a 41% turnout.
The Division of Elections will not certify the election until Jan. 3 in order for remaining ballots to be counted. State election officials will count ballots postmarked by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18.
“This will be a good thing, in my opinion,” Petersburg Mayor Mark Jensen said. “I don't really think the numbers will change much and I would be surprised if more than a couple hundred more ballots make it in to be counted.”
According to Jensen, if the vote is certified on Jan. 3 the first Petersburg Borough Assembly meeting will be Jan. 7.
“At that time we will advertise for all of the open positions on the different boards to make sure they are filled,” Jensen stated. “I hope that some of the folks from outside the city limits will come in and put their name in to be placed in these positions.”
He explained that they will just move on from there to get started with the transition.
“We will also have the appeal from Juneau to deal with then as well,” Jensen said. “It will take some time, but I really don't see the boundaries changing especially if the vote continues to go as it is.”
The appeal from Juneau was filed Oct. 19, and the Local Boundary Commission decided to forgo any decisions on this matter until after the election is concluded.
The consensus during the Tuesday evening Petersburg City School Board meeting was one of an unknown future.
“If this passes, and it looks as if it will, we will not have a quorum for the next board meeting,” PCSD Board President Jean Ellis said. “It will just be myself and Cheryl.”
Ellis and File are the only candidates for the school board seats in the Petersburg Borough with Mark Jensen as mayor and Susan Flint, John Havrilek, John Hoag and Nancy Strand as Assembly members. Tom Abbott, Tim Koeneman, Rocio Tejera and Darlene Whitethorn will fill positions on the hospital board.
“The interested parties coming up now will not have to get the signatures for their petition,” Jensen stated. “But the financial paperwork will still have to be turned in.”
The ballots that were counted were the ones that were received into the Division of Elections by Tuesday.
“I feel there will be at least approximately 150 more ballots counted,” Petersburg City Council member Nancy Strand said. “Those were just sent in Tuesday.”
The final count will take place Dec. 28, giving time for overseas ballots to be returned.
“I hope we can mend fences and get to the business of forming a borough,” Strand stated. “I also hope that those against the borough will take an active role in their government.”
According to Strand, anyone that was against borough formation, but finds themselves in a borough anyway, the perfect place for them would be one of the planning and zoning commission positions or an assembly position.
Attempts were made to contact those opposing borough formation, but by press time Wednesday no response had been provided.