Juneau incumbents hold onto their seats

Weyhrauch, Kerttula win re-election comfortably

Posted: Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Republican Bruce Weyhrauch and Democrat Beth Kerttula easily beat their challengers for Juneau's two seats in the state House of Representatives on Tuesday.

"I'm grateful to the people in Juneau," said one-term incumbent Weyhrauch, amid bursts of confetti launched at Centennial Hall in celebration of his victory Tuesday night.

"It's not an easy task for a Democrat to win in Alaska," said Kerttula, who will go into her fourth term in the House. "I know how fortunate I am and will continue to work as hard as I can."

With all precincts reporting, unofficial results Tuesday night showed Weyhrauch beating Doll 4,797 to 2,490 and Kerttula beating Republican Andrew Engstrom 5,041 to 2,046.

Weyhrauch, 51, blasted his adversary, Democrat Bob Doll, 68, for negative campaigning and chastised other Alaska political candidates for hassling voters by phoning them at their homes.

"There should be a do-not-call list," Weyhrauch said.

Doll, a former state transportation official, said he merely called attention to Weyhrauch's voting record on the ill-fated Longevity Bonus and other budget decisions during his first House term.

Kerttula said she was disappointed that more Alaska voters weren't motivated to vote for Democrats on Tuesday to check the political imbalance in the Legislature.

"Having one party in control hasn't been the best mixture," she said.

Both Weyhrauch and Kerttula are Juneau attorneys. During their campaigns, both stumped on their record of bipartisanship in the Republican-dominated state Legislature.

Kerttula's House District 3 includes residents of downtown Juneau, Douglas and part of Lemon Creek. Weyhrauch's House District 4 extends north through Mendenhall Valley.

Kerttula, 48, touted her leadership roles in the House as a politician and negotiator. A former oil and gas attorney, Kerttula serves as the House Democrats' minority whip.

Her opponent, Engstrom, 38, said the campaign "was a very positive experience" and as a first-time runner, he was encouraged by the 2,046 who voted for him.

Engstrom said he wouldn't rule out running for political office in the future. It's "fantastic ... when you see so many people in the community back you," he said.

Engstrom, like Kerttula, hailed from a political family. His grandfather, grandmother and uncle served in the Legislature. Owner of Capital City Windows, a window-washing company, Engstrom is a former state champion skier and rock musician. In 2002, he released a science-fiction rock album about a mining planet called Volitar.

Doll, a former manager of the Alaska Marine Highway System, served in the Vietnam War and spent 30 years in the Navy.

Doll said he wouldn't have handled the District 3 campaign any differently despite Weyhrauch's complaints.

"All I ever did was cite his voting record and adherence to the majority in the Legislature. I simply cited it and left it up to the voters to decide whether it was significant."

Doll added, "Apparently, people were not concerned with that sort of thing."

Weyhrauch said the biggest issues in the upcoming legislative session will be finding a "recurring" source of revenue for the state and diversifying the Juneau economy while maintaining it as the hub for state government.

Kerttula said her priorities are giving a bigger boost to education budgets and getting an early review of the multi-billion-dollar contract for the proposed gas pipeline to the Lower 48.

After Gov. Frank Murkowski signs the contract, the Legislature has only 30 days to review it. "We need to have more details now, so when we go into session we aren't stuck with the 30-day deadline," she said.

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