Municipal elections today

Voters to choose Assembly, School Board members; decide cigarette tax, school funds

Posted: Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. today in a municipal election to determine who will hold three seats on the Juneau Assembly, three seats on the Juneau School Board, and two ballot propositions asking voters to hike up tobacco taxes and to authorize borrowing for renovations at Gastineau Elementary School.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

There were 24,666 registered voters as of the Sept. 6 cutoff date to be eligible to vote today, Elections Clerk Laurie Sica reported. Voter turnout rates have fluctuated a lot in recent years, ranging from more than 40 percent in 2007 to just over 26 percent in 2008.

As of Saturday, 896 ballots had already been cast via absentee voting, Sica said, which had been underway since Sept. 21.

While Assembly candidates in some cases run to represent certain districts, all city voters vote in all races.

There are two candidates for each of the three Assembly seats:

• For mayor, Mark Farmer is challenging incumbent Bruce Botelho.

• In District 1, Karen Lawfer is challenging incumbent David Stone.

• In District 2, incumbent Sara Chambers did not seek re-election, leaving the field to newcomers Ruth Danner and Stephanie Madsen.

In School Board elections, five candidates are vying for three seats: Incumbents Phyllis Carlson, Mark Choate and Andi Story, and challengers Mary Marks and former school board member Bill Peters.

Finally, the Assembly authorized two municipal ballot propositions.

Proposition 1 asks voters to authorize the city to borrow $11.8 million for renovations at Gastineau Elementary School. Up to 70 percent of that cost is eligible for reimbursement from the state, leaving property owners a burden of about $12 per $100,000 of assessed value for 10 years, if approved.

Proposition 2 asks voters to authorize an increase in excise taxes on tobacco products. If approved, the tax on cigarettes would increase to $1 a pack from 30 cents. On wholesale tobacco products, it would increase to 45 percent from 12 percent. The new taxes would take effect Jan. 1.

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