Runoffs Will Decide Close Races For Mayor And City Council Seat C
In Unalaska, the highly contested races for mayor and City Council Seat C are headed to runoff elections.
At City Hall, Unalaska's city clerk feeds a bundle of absentee and questioned ballots into a vote-counting machine while candidate Frank Kelty sits nearby. He's eagerly awaiting the results, which will tell him if he still has a shot at the mayor's office.
"In all the years I've been in local elections here, I've never lost," says Kelty, a longtime Unalaska politician and current city councilor.
Kelty was mayor for a decade in the 1990s, and now he's running for the top job again. Waiting next to him, Jeff Treannie is new to local politics. He's vying for Seat C on the City Council.
"This is great," says Treannie. "I'm loving it."
Kelty and Treannie have different levels of experience, but right now they're in the same boat. They both hold second place in their respective five-way races, trailing behind incumbents and hoping they earn enough votes for a runoff.
Officials determine about half of the outstanding ballots are valid. So as the machine tallies them up, City Clerk Cat Hazen says it's bound to be close.
"Certainly enough to make a difference in the final results," says Hazen.
When the results are declared, the ballots make a difference for both races.
"No candidate has received more than 40 percent of the vote, so there will be a runoff," she says.
In the contest for mayor, incumbent Shirley Marquardt takes 39.6 percent of the vote and falls short of winning outright by just three votes. Kelty says he's glad he still has a chance to challenge her, especially in a two-way runoff.
"I think we'll get a true sense of what the public wants with only a two-candidate race instead of a five-candidate race," he says. "I'll just get out there, campaign hard, and see what happens."
Treannie says he'll step up his campaigning as well. In the continued contest for Seat C, he'll face incumbent Roger Rowland, who only needed 10 more votes to avoid a runoff.
"I'm going to get a hold of the other three candidates who were running in the race before," says Treannie. "Obviously, there were a bunch of votes that didn't go for Roger, so I'm going to try to get them to help me campaign."
Runoff elections will be held Nov. 1.