October 7, 2010 |

Vick, Goodman win votes for assembly; Hess says she'll contest result

Haines Borough voters chose incumbent Steve Vick over opponents Linda Geise and John Winge in a three-way race for the assembly Tuesday.

Voters also chose Greg Goodman over Karen Hess for an assembly seat, but Hess said this week she’d challenge the results on the basis of Goodman’s residency.

A school board race between incumbent Brenda Jones and Sean Cone was too close to call. Cone led by 23 votes Tuesday, with 53 potential outstanding ballots to be counted.

With 1,094 votes cast Tuesday, voter turnout was up by about 50 ballots from last year, to 49 percent of registered voters. An election canvass is set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the borough assembly chambers.

Vick captured 46 percent of votes cast for assembly seat "B," compared to 27 percent for Geise and 26 percent for Winge. Vick won in the downtown and highway voter precincts. A runoff election is required if the winning candidate draws fewer than 40 percent of total votes.

Vick won office in a three-way race in 2007 against Winge and former city Mayor Dave Berry.

"I think we ran a good, positive campaign," Vick said Wednesday. "I try to maintain a balance, and get all the information I can before taking a position. I think voters recognize that. I don’t go in with an agenda."

In the race between Goodman and Hess, Goodman polled 54 percent to Hess’ 44 percent. Hess won the highway precinct by two votes but Goodman, a former police chief, won downtown by about 70 votes and also polled more absentee votes.

Hess said she’d be filing paperwork Friday at the borough to challenge the result. "I feel like he’s not eligible by borough code. I don’t think it’s fair to have a person on the assembly who wasn’t eligible to be a candidate by borough code. I think some of the town is up in arms over this."

At the time he filed for office, Goodman acknowledged he’d recently returned to town from two years working as a pilot in Anchorage, but said he believed he was eligible under borough law and said that Haines remained his primary residence.

Residency requirements for borough office holders are addressed in at least three different sections of borough law, each varying slightly in language.

In the Cone-Jones race for school board, Jones won the highway precinct handily and trailed Cone by only 11 votes downtown, but Cone outpolled Jones among absentee voters, 97-67. Cone drew 478 votes (50 percent of votes) compared to 455 (48 percent) for Jones.

Cone was asked if the results were as he expected. "It’s hard to tell in an election like this. People don’t come up to you and say, ‘I’m not voting for you,’" he said. "I think probably the most common comment I heard from people is that they’d like to see a better balance (on the board)," he said. He said people also said they wanted more men on the board.

One man, Brian Clay, serves on the seven-member board.

"It’s not a done deal. It could swing either way. I wouldn’t presume to be the winner," Cone said.

Anne Marie Palmieri, running unopposed, received 96 percent of votes to serve a one-year term on the school board. Sarah Swinton, also unopposed, drew 92 percent.

Dave Button, who launched a last-minute, write-in campaign against Goodman and Hess, drew 11 votes, about one-fourth as many as when he ran as a write-in two years ago.

The 53 outstanding ballots include 16 questioned ballots, 11 absentee-by-fax, one ballot by personal representative, one absentee-in-person and as many as 24 absentee-by-mail ballots that were mailed and haven’t been returned.

Borough clerk Julie Cozzi said if the election is contested before Tuesday’s canvass, she and manager Mark Earnest would be charged with investigating Hess’s claim that Goodman didn’t qualify as a candidate.

As the canvass board, the borough assembly would then decide whether the results of the investigation should change the results of the election.

If Hess were dissatisfied with the assembly’s decision, an appeal could be made to a state Superior Court judge.

In last year’s municipal election, a disagreement over which absentee and write-in ballots should be accepted by the borough led to a court appeal by supporters of candidate Daymond Hoffman. Hoffman’s supporters won in court, effectively overturning the borough assembly’s decision and seating Hoffman on the assembly.