A recount requested by Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Haines, in the close House District 34 election was conducted Monday, with Thomas’ challenger continuing to hold a lead upon its completion.
The recount wrapped up just before 1 p.m. Monday. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins’ 34-vote lead was shaved to 32 votes, as Thomas picked up seven new votes and Kreiss-Tomkins added five.
“Not a whole lot changed,” said Elections Director Gail Fenumiai. “When one would gain, another would gain.”
If he so chooses, Thomas has five days to file an appeal, according to Fenumiai. Otherwise, the vote totals for the district, which encompasses Sitka as well as much of rural Southeast Alaska, including the communities of Haines, Angoon, Craig and Metlakatla, are final.
Kreiss-Tomkins, who attended the recount as an observer, said he is pleased to have it behind him.
“It’s nice to have a point of punctuation at the end of the election,” Kreiss-Tomkins said.
While recounts usually do not change the outcome of elections, Kreiss-Tomkins said, he admitted he was “a little bit” anxious before the recount.
“I think I was nervous up until there was total closure on the election,” said Kreiss-Tomkins.
Kreiss-Tomkins, a Democrat from Sitka, said the next step for him is returning to his constituents before the legislative session begins next month.
“I think our campaign was about trying to offer full and equal access of government to every community, no matter how small, no matter how remote or isolated,” Kreiss-Tomkins said. “This is a rural Southeast Alaska district, and I’m going to try to get back to the communities before session, if I can. And that’s really important to me. And that’s what we were doing for the campaign, and now that the campaign’s done, continuing doing the same thing.”
In the Alaska House of Representatives, Kreiss-Tomkins added, he wants to bring the same “high-energy advocacy” from his campaign to representing the district’s interests.
Kreiss-Tomkins also offered some warm words for Thomas, who was out of state Monday and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“I think it’s really important to acknowledge the legacy Bill has left our district,” said Kreiss-Tomkins. “He cares about Southeast. He worked hard for Southeast. And you know, I and many others are grateful for his eight years of service.”
Kreiss-Tomkins said he had not yet spoken to Thomas about the result.
House District 34 is the last unresolved race from the Nov. 6 general election. Another Democrat who had a close race, Anchorage Sen. Hollis French, survived a recount last Thursday.
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