August 30, 2012 | Volume 42, No. 35

Voters reject coastal management initiative

Voters in the Chilkat Valley aligned with ones statewide Tuesday, rejecting a ballot proposition that would have restored Alaska’s coastal management program, but by a smaller margin.

In Haines and Haines Highway districts, voters rejected coastal management by identical, 51 percent margins. In Klukwan, 17 of 25 voters, or 68 percent, voted in opposition.

Statewide, 62 percent of voters opposed the initiative. Among voters in the new, state House district 34, of which Haines is a part, the measure was supported by 54 percent voters, largely on votes from the two Sitka voting precincts, which supported it by 62 percent.

Port Alexander, Hydaburg and Angoon were the other voting precincts in the district supporting it.

Like voters statewide, most valley voters also came out against a statewide initiative that would increase the allowable, maximum resident property tax exemption from $20,000 to $50,000.

Although highway voters supported it by 53 percent, ones in town and in Klukwan were opposed by 59 percent and 75 margins, respectively. Statewide, 50.5 percent of voters opposed the change, according to unofficial state figures available at press time.

State Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Haines, said he was surprised by a relatively low voter turnout, considering that coastal management would be of interest to voters in his coastal district.

Klukwan, at 39 percent, and Haines, at 30 percent, ranked first and fourth in voter turnout among 15 precincts in the district.

Incumbent Thomas and Democratic challenger Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins of Sitka each were unopposed in their respective party primaries Tuesday.

In total votes cast districtwide, Kreiss-Tomkins outpolled Thomas, garnering 1,256 to Thomas’ 937, and drawing more votes in each of the 15 districts except Haines and Haines Highway, Craig, Kasaan and Pelican.

“It’s an exciting result, any way you cut it,” Kreiss-Tomkins told KHNS, saying his hard work in villages paid off.

Thomas, however, characterized the vote as no surprise. The district is largely Democratic and as many as 55 percent of its voters reside in Sitka, he said. Thomas also said he didn’t know that he has ever outpolled a Democratic opponent in a district primary.

He said he hasn’t been campaigning, but would in coming weeks, including advertising.

Districtwide primary voting for state Senate district Q candidates appeared comparable to results for House candidates, by party.

Sen. Albert Kookesh, D-Angoon, drew 1,052 votes on the open ballot, and opponent Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, received 963 votes on the Republican ballot. Stedman drew more votes than Kookesh in Haines, while Kookesh received more at Haines Highway and Klukwan precincts.

By precinct, Stedman votes roughly paralleled those for Thomas with the exception of Sitka, where more votes were cast for Stedman than for his Democratic opponent.

Kookesh represented Haines in the Senate before redistricting earlier this year.