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Yakutat turns out mayor in favor of challenger

Fourth Southeast borough to elect new mayor this year

Posted: October 18, 2012 - 12:04am

Yakutat Mayor Dave Stone failed to secure another term in office Tuesday as voters in Alaska’s least-populous borough elected Cindy Bremner as his successor.

Bremner, a former president and chief executive officer of Yak-tat Kwaan, Inc., and a former member of the City and Borough of Yakutat Assembly, captured 104 votes to Stone’s 79 in unofficial Election Night returns.

Stone had no opponent in the race until just before the candidate filing period closed (http://bit.ly/Td6E57).

“It’s something I’d been thinking about for a little while,” Bremner said Wednesday of running for mayor. She served on the Assembly from 2007 to 2010, but took a break from public office. In the mayoral race this year, she said, “I had hoped there would be other entries, and when there was not, was when I made my final decision to put my name in.”

Bremner identified energy costs almost immediately as a priority she intends to pursue during her two-year term.

“I was born and raised in Yakutat, and I have lots of hopes for our community,” said Bremner. “Right now we pay outrageous amounts for electricity. I would like to see alternative energy seriously considered by our community — and it’s something that we’ve always talked about, but we’ve never really ever done anything about it.”

Another priority Bremner named is collaboration with “local agencies.” Bremner is still an elected member of Yak-tat Kwaan’s board of directors — a board she once chaired — and said she hopes her experience there will help her bring groups together as mayor.

“I would like to see more local partnerships,” Bremner said. “I believe that’s going to lead to many successes, not just with alternative energy, but also with economic development and stability within our own community.”

In addition to Bremner, four others were elected to the seven-person CBY Assembly on Tuesday.

Assembly Member Victoria Demmert was reelected with 118 votes, but Assembly Member Lowell Petersen was less fortunate. He finished third in the race to fill two Assembly seats for full two-year terms, taking 91 votes to 105 for Jeremiah C. James.

Assembly Member Nick Holcomb, seeking to continue serving out the remainder of the unexpired term to which he was appointed, was reelected. Assembly Member Kathy Jacobson, in the same situation, was not. She took just 79 votes to 92 for Daryl James.

Borough Clerk Cathy Bremner, the mayor-elect’s aunt, said by e-mail Wednesday morning that the 30 absentee and questioned ballots also cast in the election would be counted Thursday morning, when the Canvassing Committee meets.

Stone, Petersen and Jacobson could potentially overtake their opponents once the absentee and questioned ballots are counted. However, in all cases — especially in the mayor’s race, where Cindy Bremner is ahead by 25 votes — it would require those ballots to break overwhelmingly toward the trailing candidate.

Election results are unofficial until certified by the Borough Assembly. In her email, Cathy Bremner wrote that should happen “no later than” the Assembly’s next meeting on Nov. 1.

Out of 445 registered voters, 193 regular ballots, which do not include questioned and absentee ballots, were cast. Cathy Bremner wrote that voter turnout ­— 43.4 percent — is still less than what she had been thinking it would be, even though the number of votes cast is a significant step up from the “120 to 160” she said the average has been in recent municipal elections.

“We expected there would be a higher turn out with more choices on the ballot,” Cathy Bremner wrote.

Unusually, Yakutat holds its municipal elections on the third Tuesday of October. Most municipalities in Alaska, including Juneau, hold theirs on the first Tuesday of October.

Yakutat is the fourth borough in Southeast Alaska to elect a new mayor this month.

Mayors in Juneau and Wrangell did not run for reelection this year, and in Sitka, voters declined to back then-Mayor Cheryl Westover for a second term (http://bit.ly/PUJpHt).

Across the international border, voters in Whitehorse, Yukon, are preparing to elect a new mayor as well. That election will be held Thursday.

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

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