Proposition 2 was soundly defeated at the Juneau ballot box last week, and opponents of the measure were aided in defeating it by a strong last-minute receipt of donations.
Data submitted by both SAFE and the Vote NO Committee to the Alaska Department of Administration's Public Offices Commission show Vote NO received $7,000 of total donations in amounts greater than $250 in the nine days prior to the election. SAFE received $4,300 in such contributions in that same time frame. SAFE and Vote NO were required to submit data to the state, including all financial contributions received on or before Sept. 25, and anything more than $250 in the nine days prior to the election.
The Safe, Affordable, Future Efficient Committee was the most active and visible proponents of Proposition 2, which would have extended Juneau's temporary 1 percent sales tax to 2023 in order to pay for a second crossing from mainland Juneau to Douglas Island. Vote NO served to coordinate opposition to the measure, which failed by a more than 2-to-1 margin in the Oct. 5. municipal election.
Vote NO treasurer and City Assemblyman Bob Doll didn't think last-minute advertising on either side made a significant difference.
"It seems to me, the arguments on both sides that were offered early on were consistent and maintained ... with very little change," Doll said. "The repetition of those arguments in radio, newspaper ads, I don't think made a great deal of difference."
SAFE Chairman Rick Shattuck, however, said he believed the fundraising discrepancy did make a difference.
"Obviously, with their funding they were able to buy more advertising and spread their message further," he said. "Frankly, we felt it led to a lot of misinformation and confusion of the voters."
Preliminary figures - the data from the report listing all contributions made on or before Sept. 25 plus the last-minute contributions -show Vote NO raised $22,687 with 83 contributions. Vote NO registered with the Alaska Department of Administration's Public Offices Commission on Sept. 14. SAFE brought in more than $5,000 less, despite having more than a month's head start on fundraising. The pro-Proposition 2 group drew $17,075 from 53 contributors from Aug. 5, the date the group registered, until the Sept. 25 deadline. Some individual contributors donated more than once.
Records submitted to the commission show Vote NO received $1,500 from Jackie Walden, $1,500 from Jim Triplette, $2,000 from Susan Arthur and $2,000 from the Safari Club International's Alaska Chapter in the nine days before the election. SAFE received $2,500 from Goldbelt, Inc., $300 from Tailwind, Inc., $1,000 from AJT Mining Properties, Inc., and $500 from Rick Shattuck in that period. The groups were required to report these donations within 24 hours after receiving them.
Both sides have until Feb. 15, 2011 to submit their final reports, which will include any last-minute donations under $250.
Doll said he believes the diversity of reasons people chose to vote no caused more donations to come in.
"I can only conclude from that information, that the pro-side stirred fewer people to take some action - to be personally involved by making a contribution," Doll said. "I think the negative side did inspire people to participate and I think that's because there was a wide range of reasons to object."
Both Doll and Shattuck said they felt the unofficial voter turnout of 38.4 percent was so high because of this proposition.
"This issue affected the turnout," Shattuck said. "Whether the funding had a lot to do with it, I just don't know what was in the individual voters mind."
Doll said it was the largest turnout in recent years.
Last year's turnout for the municipal election was 28.8 percent of registered voters, 2008 was 26.3 percent and 2007 was 40.4 percent.
Contributors of $500 to SAFE were: George Elgee, Northland Services, MJM Realty LLC, Rick Shattuck and Richard Behrends. The Juneau Chamber of Commerce and AJT Mining Properties, Inc., donated $1,000 each. Goldbelt donated $2,500 twice.
Contributors to Vote NO of $499 were: Jim Triplette and Jackie Walden. Donors of $500 were: Tom Boutin, Gregory Brown, Wayne Regelin, Jon Tillinghast, Ronald Somerville, Robert Armstrong, Mark Schwan, Steven Zimmerman. Elton Engstrom donated $550. Sandra Shaw gave $700. Donald Abel, Susan Arthur and the Safari Club's Alaska chapter gave $2,000 each. Donors of $1,500 were Jackie Walden and Jim Triplette.
Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@ juneauempire.com.
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