By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Council certifies Tuesday's municipal election results

New members will be sworn in at next school board and council meetings


Valdez Star photo

Election officials signing off on the Wednesday recount of votes from Precinct 1.

Ryan McCune, Lon Needles and Lea Cockerham won seats on the Valdez City Council Tuesday night.

The three candidates will take the oath of office this Monday during the regular city council meeting. They will be replacing outgoing council members Ruth Knight, Mike Wells and Dennis Fleming.

The results were certified by the sitting city council during a special meeting held noon Wednesday.

Election officials met at council chambers Wednesday morning to count absentee and questioned ballots, and to recount precinct one ballots that missed counting two ballots during the regular election hours.

Sheri Pierce, the city clerk and top election official in Valdez, later told council that there were also 179 write in votes for council seats.

"The majority of those write ins were for the same person," she said.

That would be latecomer John Hozey - the former city manager who waged a last minute write-in campaign for a council seat. He netted 155 out of the 179 write in votes that were counted in the election.

Two of the ballots with Hozey's name written in were not counted because the voters spoiled the ballot.

There were three questioned ballots that were not counted during the official count Wednesday morning because it was determined the persons who cast the ballots were not actually registered to vote in Valdez.

Voters whose names are not on the register for the precinct where they cast a ballot are allowed to vote, but the ballot is considered questioned until the clerk's office can validate that the voter is indeed properly registered and eligible to cast a ballot in the election.

School board incumbents Dolores Gard and Dr. Kathy Todd were both reelected after running unchallenged. Both were sworn back into office Monday night for three year terms during the regular school board meeting.

There were 74 write ins for board of education.

In total, 761 ballots were cast according to Pierce.

During Wednesday's council meeting to certify the election, council member Chris Moulton asked Pierce to clarify voter turnout for the election – the city's first held in May from its past practice of holding municipal elections in October.

Pierce said the state's Div. of Elections says there are 3,053 registered voters in Valdez. Using that number, voter turnout for the election was only 25 percent.

However, that number is highly suspect. In 2013, city officials claimed the population of Valdez is 4,023 people.

Pierce said the Div. of Elections is responsible for purging voter rolls after people move, die or otherwise become ineligible to vote and it is highly likely the current voter count is outdated.

"I will continue to try to work with them on purging our register," she said.

Valdez Star photo

Election officials Sheri Pierce, left, and Gloria Day, right, reviewing ballots Wednesday morning after Tuesday's municipal elections.


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