October 6, 2011 |

It's Smith, Schnabel; Outstanding ballots to decide mayor

The race for Haines Borough Mayor is too close to call, with challenger Stephanie Scott leading Jan Hill by 30 votes as of press time Wednesday.

"I feel like it would be presumptuous to assume anything at this point in time," Scott said. "I’m just happy that we had such a good turnout in the electorate."

Hill was out of town and could not be reached for comment.

Borough clerk Julie Cozzi said up to 40 votes have yet to be counted, from absentee, personal representative and questioned ballots. The election canvass is 5:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Also in the Oct. 4 municipal election, Debra Schnabel, Norm Smith and Jerry Lapp earned seats on the Haines Borough Assembly. The effort to recall assembly members Daymond Hoffman and Joanne Waterman failed by about a two-to-one margin.

"I’m happy that a large majority of the community supported Daymond and me," Waterman said. "I feel they understand that we made as good of a decision as we could make with those circumstances, and I think they accepted that."

The unofficial voter turnout was 51 percent, up from 49 percent last year.

"The people have made a decision with their vote as to what they expect," said Jim Shook, chairman of the Haines Recall Committee. "Who can be unhappy about the voters expressing their desires?"

Shook said he’s glad the recall vote is finished, but he hopes it has a lasting impact.

"I’ve been thinking of that for quite a long while, that whichever way the vote goes, hopefully the assembly will realize that at least some of the people are watching and do expect them to comply with the law," he said.

Hoffman said the result of the recall vote was "a big relief."

"I’m happy about it," he said. "Obviously, I’m appreciative of everyone who took the time to research it and ask questions and listen."

As of Wednesday afternoon, the tally in the mayoral race stood at 577 for Scott and 547 for Hill.

Scott said she was "absolutely not" declaring victory at this time.

"Statistically, the probability is that the same trend will follow, but I note that Jan Hill has 11 more votes than I do in the townsite precinct, so, basically, that’s a trend to consider, too," said Scott, who had a 151 to 114 edge in votes from absentee ballots.

Smith will return to seat "E" after a one-year hiatus. He topped Karen Hess, 643 to 486, and will serve through October 2013, to complete Greg Goodman’s term.

"He’s excited to serve," said Smith’s wife, Suzanne Vuillet-Smith. "There are a lot of pertinent issues, and he felt that, especially, people up the highway need a lot more support and advocacy."

Hess said she would like to congratulate Smith and the other winning candidates.

"I’ve accepted it graciously, and I’m moving on," she said of her defeat.

Schnabel outpolled Jerry Erny, 619 to 499, for assembly seat "C."

"My election is not a fair assessment of the populace, in that I carry so much baggage," Schnabel said. "In a small town, it’s hard to tell whether you’ve got a vote in your favor or a vote against your opponent."

Lapp edged John Brower, 611 to 513, to gain re-election to assembly seat "F."

"I just thank the community for supporting me again and having faith in me, and I’ll do the best that I can in the position that I’m in," Lapp said. "I’ll just have to keep the conservative views going there, as much as I can."

Brower said Lapp "is a tough competitor, and I wish him well."

"I think I did as well as I expected to do," Brower said. "I was hoping to get more than 500 votes – I kind of used that as a benchmark for how well I did – and I did get that. I wish I could have done better, but Jerry’s a popular candidate."

Brower said a full-time job limited his campaign, and he might run for the assembly again.

Incumbents Brian Clay and Anne Marie Palmieri ran unopposed for the school board. One seat will be vacant, and is expected to be filled by appointment.