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Friday count puts bond proposition ahead

Proposition 1 wins with questioned, absentee ballots

Posted: October 5, 2012 - 3:45pm  |  Updated: October 7, 2012 - 12:07am

Proposition 1, authorizing the issue of $25 million in general obligation bonds to fund various city projects, has passed after absentee and questioned ballots were added into the vote count Friday from Tuesday’s municipal election.

The addition of 357 questioned ballots into the vote total allowed “yes” on Proposition 1 to overcome the 57-vote margin for “no” from Election Day, putting “yes” ahead with 3,243 votes to 3,235 — a tiny eight-vote margin.

That margin expanded into a more solid lead as absentee votes were counted. With all 1,254 absentee votes available Friday added in, “yes” is ahead by 73 votes, 3,888 to 3,815.

Results will not be official until certified by the Canvass Board on Tuesday. City Clerk Laurie Sica said a few more absentee votes may yet come in by mail before the count is finalized, but she said they are unlikely to significantly change the outcome.

Mayor-elect Merrill Sanford’s victory margin over League of Women Voters Treasurer Cheryl Jebe shrank by just one vote, from 660 votes on Election Night to 659 votes Friday. He won 4,099 votes to 3,440 cast for Jebe.

Jebe did not concede the race on Election Night, but she acknowledged Friday afternoon that Sanford had won.

“I wanted to see that process to the end,” said Jebe, referring to the vote count.

Jebe added, “Merrill will do an excellent job as mayor. He’s got the experience and knowledge, and I have faith that things will proceed well. I wasn’t running against him so much as I was running … to have dialogue, to increase the discussions that were going on.”

Despite the passage of Proposition 1, which he opposed during the campaign season, Sanford was upbeat after Friday’s count.

“The voters have said their piece, and they want to do all those projects,” Sanford said. “So we’ll move forward in the next five years to get accomplished all of the different things on the bond issue and on the 1 percent sales tax. So there will be work for our contractors and construction people, and that’s good.”

The passage of Proposition 1 means that $10 million from the five-year 1 percent temporary sales tax extension, which passed as Proposition 2 on Election Night and expanded its lead Friday, will go toward retirement of the bond debt.

To retire the rest of the debt, starting in 2018, approximately $39 per $100,000 of assessed value will be levied annually for bond debt as part of areawide property tax until 2033.

Projects to be funded by the bond issue include construction of the Eaglecrest Learning Center, Aurora Harbor reconstruction, Juneau International Airport terminal renovation, Centennial Hall renovations, and bathrooms and concessions at three city parks.

Several planned Capital Transit maintenance shop renovations are also being funded by the bond, while others will be completed with proceeds from the 1 percent sales tax.

Wayne Stevens, president of the Eaglecrest Ski Area’s board of directors, called the bond’s passage “great news” Friday afternoon.

“For our project, it will actually, in the long run … generate money,” Stevens said.

With the questioned and absentee ballots tallied, voter turnout in the municipal election this year was 31.9 percent, according to the unofficial results.

Sica said that number is nothing special.

“It’s pretty average for Juneau,” said Sica. “It’s your super-voters that vote, you know, the people that pay attention.”

The turnout did not please Jebe, whose organization, the League of Women Voters, works to register voters and increase civic participation.

“Very poor turnout,” Jebe said. “I’m very sad there. We worked so hard to register voters, and then they don’t come out to vote.”

The voter registration deadline for the Nov. 6 general election is Sunday. Would-be voters must submit their applications to register either at an Alaska Division of Elections office by 4 p.m., when the agency’s offices close for the day, or by mail, fax or email before midnight.

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

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