Botelho takes mayor's race

Incumbent beats challenger with comfortable margin

Posted: Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Juneau voters returned Bruce Botelho to the mayor's seat Tuesday night.

The incumbent won out over challenger Brad Fluetsch in the initial results of Tuesday's city election by a tally of 3,766 to 2,416 votes. Approximately 1,000 absentee ballots

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and nearly 430 questioned ballots have yet to be verified, according to city officials.

"I think people have seen what I do as mayor, how I have tried to work toward consensus with the body, trying to problem-solve," Botelho said Tuesday night from Election Central in the commons area of Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School. "I think that was a major part of the reason for the outcome tonight."

This is Botelho's second consecutive term as mayor and his third in office as the head of the Assembly. He also served as mayor from 1988 to 1991 and as an Assembly member from 1983 to 1986.

Although the results are not final, Fluetsch conceded the race to Botelho on Tuesday night.

"It looks pretty obvious," Fluetsch said. "There are two Native conferences going on right now but they are not going to overcome a thousand-vote lead. So I think the mayor has won and I congratulate him."

The absentee and questioned ballots will be verified and tallied over the next several days and the results announced on Friday, City Clerk Laurie Sica said. The results will become official once certified by the Canvass Review Board on Tuesday, Oct. 10.

Botelho said he will get right to work with the new Assembly to set its goals for the following year, something they have done for the previous three years.

"The first order of business is organizing the Assembly again," he said. "There will be a need to select a deputy mayor, which is required by charter to happen at the first meeting once the election is certified."

Botelho said he also will move forward on the issues important to voters.

"That is the continuation of the implementation of the Downtown Waterfront Development Plan, looking at the west Douglas development, the north Douglas crossing, and working on the new capitol," he said.

The community's role in confronting global warming and the city's waste management are also important to address, Botelho said.

"Those are some of the challenges that I'm looking forward to getting into here very shortly," he said.

Fluetsch, a registered investment advisor and grand president of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, said the race was an energizing experience and he hopes he added ideas and issues to the dialogue.

"I hope the new Assembly addresses the issues I brought up during the campaign and I think they will," he said. "We have to make Juneau affordable - it's imperative for our future."

Affordable housing and a North Douglas crossing are issues on which he campaigned heavily.

"Regardless who the Assembly is, those issues will be addressed," he said.

Botelho said he is pleased that Proposition 1, to extend the temporary 3 percent sales tax, passed overwhelmingly Tuesday. He said it would have been an incredibly difficult term financially had it not passed.

"Nobody likes to be taxed but I think it is gratifying to know that the majority of the public saw that in order to deliver services we do have to tax ourselves," Botelho said. "It was clear that that was understood."

Botelho said he has no further political aspirations at this point and is excited to focus on the needs of the community for the coming term.

"I get great satisfaction from my role as mayor and that is my focus for the next three years, and beyond that I don't have a master plan any more," he said.

Mayors are allowed to serve no more than two consecutive terms in office under city law so this will likely be his last, Botelho said.

Fluetsch said he would consider running for political office again some day.

"Winning, losing, isn't really the important thing - it's getting out and expressing yourself, getting your views out to the community and letting them share them," he said.

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