With Juneau voters leading the way, Alaskans statewide rejected by a 2-1 margin a ballot initiative Tuesday that would have moved legislative sessions from the capital city to Anchorage or the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
Just over 67 percent of the state's voters chose "no" on Ballot Measure 2 in the general election. In Juneau, the total was 96 percent against the move.
Win Gruening, chairman of the anti-move Alaska Committee, said the margin of victory sends a clear message to those advocating for the initiative that Juneau should remain the seat of state government.
The group will continue to work to improve access to lawmakers and make improvements to the Capitol, Gruening said. He said that work would start with a meeting today.
For more Juneau Empire coverage of the November 5 general election, please visit the Juneau Empire Elections Guide.
"One of the things we are going to be talking about is how we can reach out to the rest of the state to determine from their point of view how we can best increase access to the capital and make ourselves a better capital city," Gruening said at Election Central on Tuesday night.
Gruening said he did not believe the defeat of Ballot Measure 2 would be the end of legislative or capital move attempts. Tuesday's ballot question was the sixth time since statehood that voters have been asked to move all or part of state government out of Juneau.
Mark Chryson, chairman of the Alaskan Independence Party and proponent of the failed initiative, said he also expects such initiatives will return.
"I'm still optimistic and we're not going away," Chryson said.
Chryson said the Alaskan Independence Party would continue to push to relocate lawmakers closer to where most of the population live.
"It's not going to be a dead issue because there are 600,000 people in Alaska and only 30,000 live in Juneau, and people are going to get fed up with Juneau hogging the seat of power," he said.
Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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