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Recall Election Fails To Oust Unalaska’s Mayor

Berett Wilber/KUCB

Unalaska’s mayor has survived a recall effort that accused him of misconduct and poor leadership.

According to initial election results, 62 percent of voters supported Mayor Frank Kelty, who was waiting at City Hall when the polls closed Tuesday night.

"I was concerned that it would be pretty tight and maybe come down to the absentees," said Kelty. "But it didn’t, and I want to thank the community for their support."

Election officials counted the 463 ballots by hand after the voting machine jammed. Their tally showed 177 Unalaskans voted "yes" to recalling Kelty, while 286 voted "no."

There are still 74 absentee and questioned ballots that must be canvassed Friday, but City Clerk Marjie Veeder said they won’t affect the final results.

Kelty will remain in office for the rest of his term, which expires in October of 2019. He said he’s glad the recall is finally over — for both himself and the community.

"I just hope that the animosity and anger go away and that we can work together for the betterment of Unalaska," he said.

Kelty said his first goal is to build a positive relationship with the new city manager.

Meanwhile, the Unalaskans who sponsored the recall petition said they respect the election results.

They released the following statement in an email to KUCB: "We'd like to thank the petition signers that made this election possible. Thank you to the community members that showed up to participate in the election. We appreciate the multitude of conversations we have had throughout this process and respect the results of the election. The civility was inspiring and it is our hope that you all will stay engaged in our local government. It takes all of us, with all of our different viewpoints, to help our community succeed.  Please attend or listen to Council meetings and hold your elected officials accountable."

The sponsors had charged Kelty with pursuing an illegal dock agreement with the shipping company Matson, along with criticizing his leadership and respect for public process.

Laura Kraegel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2020. She was KUCB's news director starting in 2019. We are proud to have her back in the spring of 2023 filling in as an interim reporter for KUCB.
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