Anchorage Voters Repeal AO-37, Return Many Incumbents

no-on-1
No on 1 supporters were abundant at Election Central on Tuesday night. Photo by Ashley Snyder / APRN.

Anchorage voters repealed AO-37, the controversial labor law, during Tuesday’s election. They returned many incumbents and also sent some new Republicans to the state legislature as well.

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Anchorage’s election sported its own special ballot measure on Tuesday – should the municipality keep AO-37, the controversial labor law created by Mayor Dan Sullivan’s administration in 2013. After heavy campaigning by city labor unions against the ordinance, the community voted to repeal it. The vote no campaign won by nearly 7,000 votes, or 54 to 46 percent.

AO-37-Graph

Jillanne Inglis is vice president of the Municipal Employees Association and a spokesperson for the No on One campaign. She says the repeal will help employee morale and recruitment.

Gabrielle LeDoux. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN - Anchorage_
Gabrielle LeDoux. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage_

“When you have an ordinance like this and a cloud over the city like that and people are looking for employment, they look at what’s going on at the city at the time,” Inglis said. “So they may have been looking elsewhere for employment.”

Anchorage voters reelected all House incumbents who were up for re-election. The tightest of those races was between Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux and Rt. Colonel Laurie Hummel. LeDoux led at the end of the night with fewer than 200 votes.

Two House races in west Anchorage had no incumbents. Republicans retained their hold on Mia Costello’s former seat in House District 22 in Sand Lake. Republican Liz Vazquez beat Democrat Marty McGee by nearly 1,000 votes. She says she took a localized approach to get her name out there.

Laurie Hummel. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN - Anchorage)
Laurie Hummel. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage)

“Concentrate on my people, concentrate on my district, put up those signs so there will be lots of name recognition,” Vazquez said. “But with that, I would knock on people’s doors and they would say, ‘Oh, Liz,’ you know it’s like they kind of recognize my name.”

The race for House District 21 is still too close to call. Republican Anand Dubey led for most of the evening, but when all of the precincts reported, Democrat Matt Claman was ahead by 35 votes. Absentee, question, and early voting ballots could change the outcome.

Republicans dominated the contested state Senate seats in the city. Republican incumbent Kevin Meyer overwhelmingly beat political newcomer Felix Rivera for Senate seat M.

Senate K in West Anchorage was expected to be a tight race between Republican and former-representative Mia Costello and Democrat Clare Ross. But by the end of the night, Costello led 57 to 43 percent. Don McKenzie lives in the district and said it was a tough choice between two strong candidates.

Mia Costello (R) - Senate District K. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN - Anchorage)
Mia Costello (R) – Senate District K. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage)

“But, I know Clare, and she’s done a great job too. I think she would make an excellent representative at some spot,” McKenzie said. “It’s just that she had a tough race running against the incumbent, and I think she showed well.”

Education was a key issue in Costello’s campaign and she says she’ll focus on many ways to improve the state’s education system while in the Senate.

“I also think that looking at the Department of Education to find out how they can serve teachers better,” Costello said. I would like to survey teachers and ask them what they want, or even students and ask students, ‘What kind of a school do you want to be in? What are the things that you are motivated by?’”

Cathy Giessel is a candidate for Senate District N. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN - Anchorage)
Cathy Giessel is a candidate for Senate District N. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage)

Two experienced politicians vied for Senate District N. Democrat and former representative Harry Crawford lost to incumbent Senator Cathy Giessel by 10 percent of the vote. Crawford says he’s disappointed, but it doesn’t mean he’s out of politics.

“I like to watch politics and call people on it when they’re not doing the right thing,” Crawford said. “So, I will be watching and, like I said, holding Cathy Giessel accountable for her votes.”

Giessel says she’ll continue to work for her community, and…

“I think I’m like all the rest of the citizens in this state – they’re glad it’s over,” Giessel said. “Enough already!”

Final results for all of the races won’t be released until all of the more than 22,000 question, early, and absentee ballots are counted.