Fairbanks, Kenai pot-business bans fail amid local elections
Initiatives to ban marijuana businesses in two key parts of the state failed by wide margins Tuesday as Alaskans in many parts of the state went to local polls, according to unofficial results.
In Fairbanks, where more than half the state’s cultivation centers are located, borough and city-wide ballot measures were shot down by nearly 70 percent of voters.
A similar initiative in the Kenai Peninsula Borough failed by 64 percent, with all but one precinct reporting by Wednesday morning.
Members of the cannabis industry in Fairbanks declared victory by 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, after it became clear that results weren’t likely to change.
“I just feel like this is a victory for our community, our people. And it shows that Fairbanks wants cannabis,” said Greg Allison, who lead the opposition campaign against the ballot initiatives. “It’s proof that Fairbanks wants cannabis.”
Allison says the campaign raised more than $70,000.
“This is a huge win for our community, a huge win for our industry and I’m really excited and I’m super-proud for everybody who helped to make this a reality,” agreed Cristopher Konopka, who owns a cultivation center outside of Fairbanks. “We get to live and thrive as an industry and collect tax dollars and support jobs.”
The ballot initiatives could be revived in two years, but Jim Ostlind, sponsor of Proposition 1 and Proposition A in Fairbanks, said it’s too soon to say whether his group, Safe Neighborhoods Fairbanks, will try again.
“I didn’t realize how many people in Fairbanks supported the marijuana industry, and I think it’s pretty clear to me now that Fairbanks is the top marijuana city in Alaska and I think the borough is the top marijuana borough in Alaska, and I think -- I’m not particularly proud of that distinction -- but a lot of people are and it’s important to them and more power to them,” Ostlind said by phone Wednesday morning.
“I feel proud of what we did, and we tried our best, and it didn’t work out for us as far as the outcome of the vote, but at the same time, the people got to speak their piece and to make their own decision and to me that’s what democracy is all about,” Ostlind added.
State revenue officials said Wednesday that marijuana businesses had paid more than $694,000 in August taxes, on the sale of 734 pounds of bud or flower and 447 pounds of marijuana trim. That sum was up from more than $512,000 in June and nearly $578,000 in July.
In other Fairbanks races, Jerry Cleworth and David Pruhs were running unopposed for two Fairbanks City Council seats. Proposition B, which would have raised local taxes to replace reduced state revenue-sharing funds, was failing with 56 percent of voters against it.
Christopher Quist, Angela Major and Aaron Lojewski were leading races for three FNSB Assembly seats while Tim Doran, Sean Patrick Rice and Wendy Dominique were ahead in three borough school board races. Patrice Lee and unopposed candidate Jack Wilbur Jr. were well ahead in two races for Interior Gas Utility at-large board seats.
According to the Fairbanks North Star Borough clerk’s office, election results will remain unofficial until certified by the assembly on Oct. 26.
For a look at the full City of Fairbanks election summary report, click here.
For a look at the full Fairbanks North Star Borough election summary report, click here.
In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, Charlie Pierce was leading against Linda Far Hutchings and Dale Bagley in a three-way race for mayor. Brent Hibert, Harold Smalley and Norm Blakeley were leading three opposed Assembly races, with Kenn Carpenter and Kelly Cooper running for two other seats unopposed.
Jason Tauriainen was leading the only opposed borough school board race against Joe Arness, with Penny Vadla, Debbie Cary and Mike Illg unopposed as they sought three other seats.
For a look at the full Kenai Peninsula Borough election summary report, click here.
Several other elections were held across the state Tuesday; here’s a look at some selected results.
BETHEL: Mitchell Forbes, R. Thor Williams and Naim Shabani were leading an eight-person field for three Bethel City Council seats with 438, 419 and 392 votes respectively. A proposed increase in Bethel’s alcohol tax to 15 percent was passing, with 372 votes in favor to 257 against.
For a look at the full Bethel election summary report, click here.
JUNEAU: Three City and Borough of Juneau Assembly seats were before voters Tuesday. Jesse Kiehl was the victor in a three-way District 1 race with 3,422 votes against Chuck Collins’ 1,470 and Loretto Jones’ 223, Rob Edwardson prevailed in District 2 with 2,955 votes to Debbie White’s 1,967, and Maria Gladziszewski was running unopposed on the ballot for an areawide seat with 3,582 votes against 1,082 write-in votes.
Brian Holst won a Juneau School Board seat with 3,558 votes, against opponents Jeff Short’s 2,666 votes and Kevin Allen’s 1,574.
Voters were favoring a 1 percent areawide sales tax with 4,059 votes in favor to 1,227 against. An initiative to change city competitive-bidding processes in Juneau’s city charter, allowing exceptions by ordinance to required low-bid awards, was passing with 3,614 votes in favor to 1,530 against.
For a look at the full Juneau election summary report, click here.
MAT-SU BOROUGH: Assembly candidates Clayton Tew and Ted Leonard were ahead of opponents James Mayfield and Patricia Hogan in two races, leading them with 608 and 481 votes respectively. Kelsey Trimmer was ahead of Emery Schramm in a school board race with 322 votes to Schramm’s 218, while Ole Larson was running for another board seat unopposed.
For a look at the full Mat-Su Borough election summary report, click here.
SEWARD: David Squires won the race for mayor with 362 votes to Tim McDonald’s 72 votes and nine write-in votes. Sue McClure, Jeremy Horn and Suzanne Towsley were leading in a race for three city council seats with 291, 230 and 214 votes respectively; candidates Katie Cornwell and Deborah Altermatt had 207 and 191 votes, with nine write-ins.
A proposal to amend Seward’s city charter to extend mayoral and council terms from two to three years was narrowly ahead, with 226 votes in favor to 216 against. About 90 absentee, questioned and special-needs ballots remained to be counted, at an event set for 1 p.m. Thursday in Seward’s council chambers.
For a look at the full Seward election summary report, click here.
Liz Raines and Mary Simton contributed information to this story.
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