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Results favor Troll in areawide race

Fewer than one in five voters cast ballots for Juneau's lowest turnout to date

Posted: October 2, 2013 - 12:11am
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Kate Troll, right, gives a thumbs up while watching the votes come in with friend Deborah Craig at the Assembly Chambers Tuesday evening. Troll was almost 300 votes ahead of opponent Bill Peters in the only contested contest of the election.  Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Kate Troll, right, gives a thumbs up while watching the votes come in with friend Deborah Craig at the Assembly Chambers Tuesday evening. Troll was almost 300 votes ahead of opponent Bill Peters in the only contested contest of the election.

Former Ketchikan Borough Assembly member Kate Troll appears to have edged out Bill Peters for the areawide Assembly seat in the 2013 municipal election’s only contested race.

“It takes a team to win an election, and a team to govern,” Troll said after the final precinct numbers were reported Tuesday night. “I’m hopeful the other Assembly members will welcome me to their team.”

Peters said he was waiting to see the absentee numbers before conceding the race, but he added that typically those do not swing a race.

“It looks like Kate Troll will be serving in the areawide Assembly seat,” Peters said.

Troll holds a nearly 300-vote edge over Peters with about 1,100 absentee and questioned ballots still to be reviewed.

The election will go down as the worst in Juneau’s history in terms of voter turnout. Fewer than one in five registered voters cast a ballot this year — the previous low for a regular election was 26 percent in 2008.

Only three other elections since 1987 had voter turnout rates below 30 percent.

Preliminary numbers indicate Troll’s supporters were better about getting to the polls than Peters’ — precincts won by Troll averaged about 18 percent voter turnout while Peters’ precincts averaged a paltry 11.3 percent turnout rate.

“It’s an absolutely terrible thing,” Mayor Merrill Sanford said of the low turnout. “It’s something we have to work on as an Assembly. With the technology available today, there is no reason for people to be this discouraged from voting.”

Troll carried the downtown precincts and Douglas, and Peters’ strength came mostly from the Mendenhall Valley.

“There was especially low turnout in the Valley where a lot of people would have come out for me,” Peters said.

Before considering the absentee and questioned ballots, Juneau’s open areawide Assembly seat was won with about 8 percent of registered voters supporting Troll.

Assembly Districts 1 and 2 were also up for grabs, but current Assembly members Mary Becker and Karen Crane ran unopposed.

Current school board members Lillian “Lisa” Worl and Barbara Thurston stopped by City Hall Tuesday to watch the votes come in despite both running unopposed.

“Over the last few years we’ve started some projects, so it will be nice to see some of them come to fruition,” Thurston said.

Worl brought her family to the city’s election central to watch voters name her to the school board for the first time. She was appointed to the board late last year after former-board member Kim Poole resigned after moving out of state.

“I knew I had the board’s support because they appointed me, but it’s nice to see the people vote me in and show their support for me as well,” Worl said.

There were no ballot measures this year.

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