The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Few takers on the ballot far in the upcoming municipal elections

Deadline to file for city council and education board seats is next week


Source: City of Valdez

The city's website contains information on voting in person, by fax, by mail and by proxy.

The deadline to file a petition to run for a seat on city council and the board of education is 5 p.m. Thursday - and as of Monday, there have been few takers for the job.

There is a thirty-day window for potential candidates to take out a nominating petition and return it to the city clerk's office for the May 2 municipal elections.

As of Monday, Allie Ferko, the deputy city clerk, said only a small handful of petitions had been taken out by potential candidates and an even few number have been returned.

There are three seats up for election on the city council and three, three year seats for board of education.

There is a fourth seat for a two year term for school board that needs to be filled due to the fact that board member Melissa Cockerham is moving out of the area and resigning her post, which was set to expire in 2019

Two of the three open seats for council are for two years, the third open seat is for a three year term.

It is the opposite for board of education. There are three open seats for three-year terms, and one seat open to serve a two-year term.

Sue Ellen Montes and Ron Ruff have returned valid petitions to the clerk's office to run for two-year terms.

Their names will be on the ballot. Three additional petitions have been taken out from the clerk's office for the two-year term, but have not been returned.

Incumbent Lon Needles, who is finishing out his first term on council, has taken out a petition to run for another two year term, but had not yet returned the petition on Monday afternoon.

Jim Shirrell and Darren Reese have both taken out petitions to run for two and three year terms. Neither petition has been returned as of Monday.

Shirell is a former council member. Reese narrowly lost a seat in the 2016 municipal election after a tie in votes with incumbent council member Chris Moulton ended in a coin toss.

According to Ferko, potential candidates can take out petitions for both the two and three year council seats, but only one can be returned.

The same holds true for the board of education, which has a two-year term on the ballot, and three vacancies for three-year terms.

Ferko clarified this in an email Monday.

Example: A citizen picks up City Council nominating petitions for both two and three year terms. They gather signatures on both petitions. Prior to 5 p.m. on March 16th, they must decide whether they want to file for the two year term or the three year term. They would then file one petition with the City Clerks Office.

Cara Bourne is the only school board candidate to return a completed petition to the clerk's office for one of the three open seats for a three-year term.

Tammy Holmes has taken out a petition for the lone two-year term for board of education, but it had not been returned as of Monday afternoon.

Council members Lon Needles, Lea Cockerham and Ryan McCune have terms that are ending this May.

School board members Alan Sorum, Bill Conell and Darryl Verfaillie hold seats that are expiring this year.

Filing a petition is fairly easy.

Candidates must pick up a nominating petition from the city clerk's office in person, which can be done during regular business hours. To qualify, a candidate must have lived in Valdez at least one year and be registered to vote in Valdez.

The nominating petitions must be returned to the clerk's office in person before the deadline, and contain 25 signatures of registered Valdez voters.

Any Valdez resident hoping to vote in the upcoming election who is not yet registered to vote needs to start looking at deadlines also. To cast a valid ballot in the municipal elections, you have to be registered no less than 30 days before the election. This year, that date is April 2.

If you want to vote in the municipal elections but know you will be out of town on election day, the clerk's office has updated and posted the four ways voters can cast a ballot, including absentee ballots.


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