Haines goes more conservative with voter turnout of 50 percent - Must Read Alaska
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Friday, November 27, 2020
HomePoliticsHaines goes more conservative with voter turnout of 50 percent

Haines goes more conservative with voter turnout of 50 percent

Haines government moved more conservative during Tuesday’s borough election. A conservative mayor and four moderate-to-conservative Assembly members now dominate the governing body.

Observers say the conservative base in Haines is increasingly politically aware and going to the polls, with a 50 percent voter turnout on Oct 6, higher than the 48 percent voter turnout in 2019, and much higher than the 39 percent turnout in 2018.

Douglas Olerud, conservative candidate for mayor, defeated incumbent Mayor Jan Hill, a moderate.  It was a landslide — 760 to 422.

Olerud and Hill were both born and raised in Haines. Both of them support mining.

For Olerud it’s a return to public service. He served on the Assembly for nine years, but that was a decade ago. He also served on the Planning Commission.

There were four seats on the Assembly up for election and six candidates vying for them. The results, as of late Tuesday night:

Cheryl Stickler, a pro-mining conservative, won the most votes and will likely be certified to the Assembly.

Jerry Lapp was the second-highest vote getter, also a moderate-conservative incumbent.

Caitie Kirby came in third; she is a liberal Democrat.

Brenda Josephson, a moderate incumbent, came in fourth, but with 82 absentee and questioned ballots to be counted, her seat is at risk from fifth-place Carol Tuynman, a liberal Democrat. Josephson has just a 10-vote lead over Tuynman.

Both Tuynman and sixth-place Helen Alten ran what some locals said were negative campaigns.

The canvassing board meets on Oct. 13 to open and count ballots and certify the election. Two weeks later, the newly elected officials will be sworn in.

One of the big issues in the Haines election was the Assembly’s firing of the former city manager Debra Schnabel, who had been accused of using public resources to plow a private driveway that she owns. Schnabel became cross-threaded with some Assembly members because of her heavy-handed approach on COVID-19 face masks for Haines residents and businesses.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Haines now needs to get itself redistricted away from Juneau so they have some say in the direction Alaska takes. Right now Haines is represented in the Legislature by Hannan and Kiehl. Hannan is certain to be in the House minority come January, and Kiehl will be in the minority forever. Both are big-spending Democrats who believe that climate change and racism far outweigh economic and fiscal issues for Alaska.

  • After the votes in Haines, Fairbanks, the Mat-Su and Kenai Peninsula, it’s looking good for conservatives in Alaska this year! Hopefully, these results are indicators of returning Alaska to a right minded state and we’re able to unload the liberal flotsam dominating Juneau.

  • And unfortunately it looks like Sitka moved far left with the two open assembly seats as well as the mayor.

  • Alten and Tuynman ran negative campaigns? Apparently you never saw their campaign ads or read their responses to questions asked to all contestants. I wonder to whom you spoke to come up with that idea?

  • Completely agree with Nelle; what exactly was negative about Alten’s and Tuynman’s campaigns? The framing in this article is quite interesting… I’m not sure Olerud is any more conservative than Hill, perhaps even the contrary. The landslide more so reflects the dumping of a perceived corrupt actor for one of integrity…

  • Nice piece of parachute reporting. Well, let’s call it what it is: commentary and a ridiculously skewed view by a writer woefully and willfully ignorant of Haines issues, personalities and politics. Haines skews how it has always skewed: More liberal and progressive than most other communities in Alaska. Unfortunately, the most capable people of the liberal/progressive stripe won’t run for office, a chronic problem reflected in the recent election results. In a small town like Haines, voters don’t judge candidates on a partisan, Republic/Democrat scale. They judge candidates on their experience and ability and what they’ve accomplished in the town. Mayor Hill was a failure not because she was “moderate,” but because she was lazy and divisive, several times berating the general public and the assembly. Olerud’s politics are to the left, not to the right, of Hill, but Hill was successful for years by camouflaging her politics from all but the most careful watchers of her actions. Ms. Stickler served years as a popular school principal. Lapp is a former mayor with considerable experience. Tuynman, who has a record of accomplishment in civic matters including fostering local shopping in Haines, chose not a campaign in a traditional manner, choosing against yard signs and perhaps other, effective options. Nothing has “shifted” in Haines except perhaps progressives are learning that they can’t rely on newcomers to carry the water in terms of local government leadership. To be elected in a small town, you need to be known and to have accomplished something in the town. Your ignorance of small-time life and politics, as well as Haines specifically, is glaring.

    • And here we have the example of why they say Haines is a lovely town and an ugly community…Tom Morpjet calling his neighbor, divisive, berating, when all she did was serve her community to the best of her ability as mayor, and now calling a writer he disagrees with ignorant because she doesn’t live in his town. What a little man with a trumped up sense of importance.

      • AMEN Moose!! As a resident of Haines, I can say that Jan did an AMAZING job representing her community. Hey Tom- what happened to being “kind”?…. Calling her a “failure” when you were the one that got 86ed from the assembly just shows your true negative and ignorant nature.

  • Just an “unreliable newcomer” weighting in here. Well put Moose and Hainesgal. Also, I would add that Tom Morpjet is not a fair representation of the Haines populace. No more than former failed assembly member S€@n [email protected]!d€¥. Both have an insatiable hatred for others with opposing views. Proof is the vocabulary they use. In my short two years here, I have met many great people, it’s truly saddening that the rotten apples have the loudest voice. On a side note, I hope and pray that these new public officials help to move Haines forward where families can flourish here.

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