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Now that the speeches, debates, campaign ads, door-to-door visits, and news coverage of our local election are over, we can reflect on the experience.
The importance of the election this fall season paled in significance relative to the catastrophic events of Sept. 11. As our country has once again drawn together in spirit, we have been absorbed in our grief and introspection.
Our common spirit has been uplifted by the many great strengths that unfailingly rise to the surface anytime our freedom is challenged. One of those great strengths is the democratic process that gives America its fiber and backbone.
Our local election is one small but very important link in a vast chain of elections based on the principle that as a free society, we all have an equal voice.
It is understandable that we would see a light turnout in this election. At 6,000 voters, the turnout was weak when compared to the 11,000 who voted last fall. Although Juneau had three very important Assembly seats to fill, there were no big contentious issues to consider. However, with patriotism so heightened in these times, we would have expected more to exercise their constitutional right and privilege to vote.
This election was different, too, in that the campaign rhetoric was so subdued and respectful. It had to be very difficult for our candidates to wage campaigns under the great weight of our national tragedy, and the uncertainties that lie ahead.
All of the candidates deserve a great deal of appreciation for their participation in the democratic process, for taking on the demanding challenge of campaigning under difficult circumstances, and for the integrity they demonstrated throughout. Many campaign events were quickly canceled in the aftermath of the terrorists' attacks.
All of the Assembly candidates were strong contenders and they all garnered substantial support from voters. We count Dixie Hood, Clancy DeSmet, Chuck Collins, and Tony Reiger as winners for choosing to serve.
We congratulate Jim Powell, Randy Wanamaker and Jeannie Johnson on their wins. Johnson and Wanamaker will add balance and strength to the Assembly. Powell saw a good challenge from newcomer Chuck Collins, but will return to the Assembly as the clear winner. We also wish to congratulate School Board candidates Stan Ridgeway and Mary Becker, who ran unopposed.
All of the candidates recognized the need to unite our community. The next Assembly will play a key role in unifying and strengthening Juneau as we face the capital move vote next fall and grapple with the challenge of which road Juneau will take into the future.