Angoon council to canvass unofficial vote against alcohol

Absentee ballots changed initial results, keeping the village dry

Posted: Wednesday, October 12, 2005

With absentee votes coming in against alcohol possession in Angoon, the City Council today is scheduled to canvas the unofficial vote rejecting a question that would have legalized it.

People who went to the polls on election day voted 87-86 to make Angoon a "damp" community, which would allow possession and consumption, although sales would continue to be illegal. The absentee ballots counted this week turned the results around, with 100 opposed and 97 favoring the change, said City Clerk Francine Willis.

"We usually have a lot less people voting," Willis added. Excluding the people who have moved away, she figured there were about 300 registered voters in Angoon. About two-thirds - 201 voters - cast ballots in last week's election, which also seated two council members.

Angoon, a predominately Tlingit Native village of about 500 people on Admiralty Island, 55 southwest of Juneau, is the only community in Southeast Alaska to have voted to go dry. Metlakatla is dry through federal mandate as Alaska's only Native reservation.

Former Angoon police officer Jess Daniels said during the summer that he got 123 signatures on a petition to seek the alcohol vote. He was out of town this week, but said after last week's election that he just wanted to give people a chance to vote.

Daniels said last week that he doesn't drink. But he knows that people in Angoon do, no matter what the law says. He called Angoon "dry only on paper."

Angoon has not had a city police officer since February 2004, when Daniels left that post facing a cut in hours.

Willis said there were six questioned ballots in last week's election, but all six voters either were not registered or were registered to vote elsewhere.

The council today is scheduled to reorganize as well as canvass the vote at its 2 p.m. meeting, Willis said. Members will select their mayor and treasurer. Walter Jack Jr., the current mayor, was re-elected to the council. Richard George Sr. was also seated last week.

The alcohol issue was "hot," Willis said, expecting that it could come back again. People have to wait one year before they can petition to put it back on the ballot, she added.

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