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Local State House hopeful falls to opponent despite strong local support


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Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins

By and large local voters aligned with state results. In two races, Petersburg voters diverged with the state, the race for governor and the State House District 35 seat.

Local resident Steven Samuelson was vying for the State House seat against Sitka-based incumbent Jonathan Kreiss Tomkins. Local supporters turned out to show their support for the home-town candidate who was a clear win among Petersburg voters. It wasn't enough, though, to give him the win districtwide. Kreiss Tomkins took the seat with 60 percent of the vote.

Petersburg voters also expressed their support to keep incumbent Governor Sean Parnell in his office. Statewide that race may be too close to call with absentee and early voting ballots not yet counted. Unofficial voting results show unaffiliated gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker and his would-be lieutenant governor Byron Mallott leading by two percentage points. Walker said in a press release today that the race is too close to call.

Incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Begich said his race against Republican Dan Sullivan is also too close to call. In a press release, Begich said he is waiting until all votes are tallied to concede. He emphasized the importance of as yet untallied Native votes. Begich was endorsed by the Alaska Native Brotherhood/Alaska Native Sisterhood after attending their Grand Camp held last month in Petersburg. The local and state results show Begich behind Sullivan by four percentage points.

All three ballot measures were approved by both local and state voters. Measure 2 which legalizes marijuana and provides for taxation and regulation of the drug's production, sale and use was approved by a narrow margin, according to unofficial results. Voters have twice voted down the measure in 2000 and 2004. The measure leaves room for local municipalities to pass ordinances prohibiting or regulating "the operation of marijuana-related entities."

Whereas Measure 2 was a tight race, the other two ballot measures were overwhelmingly supported both locally and statewide.

Measure 3 will increase the state's minimum wage from $7.75 to $8.75 on Jan. 1, 2015. A further $1.00 increase will occur again on Jan. 1, 2016. Measure 4, called "Bristol Bay Forever" by supporters, adds a level of legislative oversight to the existing process of getting approval to build large-scale metallic sulfide mines in the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve area (BBFR). The legislature will now have to approve all future such mines in the BBFR.

Petersburg had a 41 percent voter turnout with 1074 of 2601 registered voters casting a ballot during Tuesday's election. That compares with 45 percent of registered voters who turned out statewide.

State officials will begin counting early voting and absentee ballots on Nov. 11 and Nov. 28 is the targeted election certification date.


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