Ruth Danner's middle-of-the-road stance and promise to listen apparently resonated with Juneau voters, who handed her the open Assembly District 2 seat by a margin of about 400 votes in elections on Tuesday.
Unofficial results show Danner leading opponent Stephanie Madsen 2,733 to 2,343. Another 1,500 absentee and questioned ballots will be counted Friday.
It was the closest Assembly race held Tuesday and the only one without an incumbent.
Danner said she was "very pleased" after results were posted, but remained cautious, noting results are not yet final.
"I think that my background in accounting and finance was important to the voters. I think that they are concerned to make sure that we make good, realistic decisions in terms of how to handle budget issues," Danner said.
She also noted that she will be "the new person" on the Assembly and said she will study hard to learn from those who have gone before.
"Most important, I want to encourage the people of Juneau to share their ideas and concerns," she said. "In the campaign I promised I would listen to ideas and concerns, and now the proof is in the pudding. I want to hear those things."
At the polls Tuesday, voter Shelagh Sands said it was the promise to listen that tilted her vote toward Danner.
"She sounds like she can listen to both sides, which I think is really important in having someone represent you," Sands said.
Juneau resident Rose Foley said she voted for Danner after attending the candidate speed dating event organized by Elevate Alaska last Friday. "She seemed a lot more genuine in her reason she gave us for running," Foley said. "She seemed very altruistic and lovely."
Gina Spartz also said she voted for Danner.
"She had the endorsement of people I respect and admire, and I agreed with her on the issues," she said.
Some voters also said the Alaska Women's Political Caucus' endorsement tilted their votes toward Danner.
Estelida Quiere said she voted for Madsen because of her background. "She's a good choice," she said. One man said he voted for Madsen because he felt she gave clearer answers than Danner.
Carl Christensen said Madsen was the one candidate on the ballot he was excited to be casting a vote for.
"I hope she gets in there," he said.
Madsen, who made an unsuccessful bid last year for the Republican nomination for the Juneau House seat representing the Mendenhall Valley, wished Danner "all the best of luck" and thanked voters, volunteers and campaign donors.
"I'm obviously disappointed," she said. "I'm going to stay involved, and now that I understand the Assembly process very very well I'll be in the audience providing my opinion. Third time's a charm, so don't count me out."
Results will be certified Oct. 13.
Contact reporter Mary Catharine Martin at 523-2276 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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