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The 'NOs' resoundingly have it - Measure 2 fails

Coastal management proposal supporters acknowledge defeat

Posted: August 28, 2012 - 11:15pm
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Barbara Lobdell ducks into a voting booth at the Douglas Public Library for the state primary election on Tuesday.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Barbara Lobdell ducks into a voting booth at the Douglas Public Library for the state primary election on Tuesday.

Ballot Measure 2, which has been a political lightning rod in Juneau and Southeast Alaska this year, has been overwhelmingly defeated by voters, partial election results indicated Tuesday night.

As of press time, unofficial returns showed Measure 2, which would have re-created a coastal management program for Alaska, trailing badly at just 37.7 percent support, with 61.2 percent of precincts reporting statewide.

Supporters of the measure argued that the coastal management proposal was needed to give Native communities and others residing along Alaska’s coastline, the longest of any state, influence over offshore activity.

“I kept emphasizing that people should vote yes if they want a voice in the management of their own coast,” reported Terzah Tippin Poe, the Anchorage-based co-chairwoman of the pro-Measure 2 Alaska Sea Party, on the phone with Sea Party headquarters in downtown Juneau after polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday evening.

Measure 2 detractors generally argued that the ballot measure was vague and poorly defined, warning that it would add unnecessary and harmful bureaucracy, though many also suggested that the Legislature act to recreate a more faithful incarnation of the program that expired last year.

Although votes on ballot measures in Alaska are officially nonpartisan, many of Measure 2’s most visible backers during the campaign season, including Juneau’s mayor and Sea Party chairman Bruce Botelho, former Gov. Tony Knowles, and House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula of Juneau, are Democrats.

Kerttula and Sen. Dennis Egan, Juneau’s two Democratic members of its legislative delegation, both endorsed Measure 2.

Rep. Cathy Muñoz, the one Republican representing Juneau in the Alaska State Legislature, publicly opposed it.

Muñoz joined Juneau Economic Development Council board chairman and former Environmental Conservation Commissioner Kurt Fredriksson, as well as the Juneau Chamber of Commerce, the Anchorage Assembly and a number of industry groups, in urging voters to reject the measure.

“I think the citizens basically read the initiative,” said Fredriksson, who co-chaired the “Vote No on 2” campaign, by phone from Anchorage Tuesday night. “I think they heard both sides, and took the time to read the initiative, and came to the conclusion that this wasn’t really restoring the coastal management program.”

As returns came in showing Measure 2 well behind, several people at the Sea Party office in Juneau blamed the “mismatch” in financial resources between the measure’s backers and its opponents, who were running television ads against Measure 2 in the weeks leading up to Primary Day.

Botelho said he hopes the Legislature acts next year to enact a coastal management program, though he acknowledged the election results signaled “a rejection of our particular approach.”

“We are, of course, disappointed in the outcome. I think it’s important, though, to note that not only do we have the folks that voted for our initiative, but … many of our opponents argued that we needed a coastal management program,” Botelho said. “We stand ready to work with our opponents to find a viable coastal management program for Alaska.”

Fredriksson said he thinks the Legislature will take up the issue in its next session, and that he will be working to see “good features” from his time in Alaskan coastal management brought up for consideration.

“I think with the defeat of Ballot Measure 2, I think it puts it right back in the legislative court. I think that’s where the state policy needs to be debated and acted upon,” Fredriksson said. “Even as I spoke out against the measure, I always pointed out, you know, that I wanted to work with folks like Beth Kerttula and others.”

Meanwhile, the outcome of Ballot Measure 1, to increase the maximum property tax exemption that local governments can offer from $20,000 to $50,000, was too close to call as of press time, with 50.7 percent of voters registering “yes” votes for the measure, according to unofficial returns. That measure attracted little local attention in Juneau.

And in federal primary races, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, the state’s sole representative to the United States House of Representatives, easily won his party’s nomination for what would be his 21st term in the House, batting aside two little-known primary challengers.

Democrats and Libertarians had a somewhat more competitive primary contest for Young’s seat, with state Rep. Sharon Cissna and small business owner Matt Moore, both Anchorage Democrats, appearing to be the leading candidates in a field of five Democrats and one Libertarian.

But despite Moore’s spending edge in the lead-up to the primary, Cissna appeared to have won a decisive victory. As of press time, unofficial returns showed her capturing 43.8 percent of the vote, with the remainder split between Moore and the other four candidates.

In Juneau’s legislative elections, both Kerttula and Muñoz were unopposed in their party’s primaries. Neither face a candidate in the Nov. 6 general election.

Egan’s seat will be up for election in 2014.

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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