Petersburg Borough approved by voters

Voters choose to dissolve city, incorporate as borough

Voters in the proposed Petersburg Borough voted to incorporate as Alaska’s 19th borough, according to unofficial election results Tuesday evening.

The City of Petersburg will dissolve in the incorporation of the home-rule borough, though Kupreanof, a city of just 27 people that lies within the boundaries of the borough, will not.

Unofficial results Tuesday showed 584 votes for the ballot question to 476 against it, a margin of about 10 percentage points.

The boundaries of the Petersburg Borough take in Mitkof Island, part of Kupreanof Island, and coastline north to Endicott Arm.

The Local Boundary Commission approved the Petersburg Borough boundary lines this summer, but the City and Borough of Juneau appealed the decision in October.

Petersburg Borough, as defined by the LBC decision, includes land sought by the CBJ in a separate petition filed after the Petersburg Borough petitioners applied to the commission to have their desired boundaries approved.

While the area along the North American coast is largely uninhabited wilderness, both the Petersburg Borough petitioners and the CBJ have argued it is part of their respective communities of interest.

Juneau’s Assistant City Attorney Amy Mead said Tuesday that if the CBJ’s appeal succeeds, she believes the only impact on Petersburg Borough would be a change in its northern boundary.

“Where the northern boundary ultimately rests isn’t something that would go before the voters,” said Mead.

Mead said the CBJ has remained neutral on the question of Petersburg Borough incorporation, despite the boundary dispute.

“Our position all along has been if the residents of Petersburg wish to incorporate as a borough, it is their right to seek to do so,” Mead said. “Our only dispute is with respect to this overlap area.”

Voters also elected the beginnings of a borough government.

The mayoral race, the only contested seat on the ballot, saw newly elected Petersburg Mayor Mark Jensen easily defeat Councilor Don Koenigs, winning 708 votes to Koenigs’ 128.

Many seats up for election lacked qualified candidates. The seven-member Planning Commission drew no candidates at all.

Petersburg City Councilors John Hoag, Nancy Strand and Sue Flint were elected to the Borough Assembly along with John R. Havrilek. Two seats on the Assembly remain vacant.

Two out of five seats on the school board and four out of seven seats on the hospital board were also filled.

The election was administered by the Alaska Division of Elections. It was conducted by mail, with ballots being mailed out to voters Nov. 26.

Election Director Gail Fenumiai wrote in an email Tuesday night that more absentee votes will be added into the count on Dec. 28, meaning Tuesday’s count is not final. She added that 10 ballots received Tuesday have not yet been reviewed.

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

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