Election Coverage

Political newcomer is Tuesday’s big winner

Assembly member-elect Matt Hunter reacts as the crowd watches numbers come in at Centennial Hall. The 30-year-old received the most votes of any candidate in any race Tuesday night. (Photo by Rebecca LaGuire/KCAW)

Matt Hunter, 30, has never run for office before. But he ended the night with the most votes of any candidate anywhere on Tuesday’s ballot. Hunter secured a seat on the Sitka Assembly with 1,755 votes.

You can view all the unofficial results from Sitka’s municipal election, and listen to candidate reaction, beginning with the race for mayor:

Listen for iFriendly audio.

Mim McConnell won more than 46 percent of the vote in a three-way race for mayor.

She says she’s ready to jump in.

“Oh, I have so many ideas,” she said Tuesday shortly after the results were announced. “I’m excited about the future, and I’m ready to go to work, and looking for people to work with me.”

McConnell brought in 965 votes for mayor on Tuesday night. Incumbent Mayor Cheryl Westover placed second with 688 votes, or about a third of the ballots cast. Assembly member Thor Christianson had 411 votes – nearly a fifth of the ballots.

For Assembly, voters have chosen Matt Hunter, Phyllis Hackett and Michelle Putz. Hunter brought in the most votes of any candidate anywhere on the ballot Tuesday night… more than 1,700 people cast ballots for the 30-year-old political newcomer.

“That’s a lot of people, and I don’t know that I know that many people in Sitka,” Hunter said. “This is really exciting, and I look forward to representing the people.”

Hackett, the incumbent, was in second place with 1,274 votes.

“I’m really shocked that I am now the one with the most seniority, and I’ve only been there four years,” she said.

Hackett will have the most continuous seniority on the Assembly, but Christianson and Mike Reif both served terms previous to the elections that have them presently in office. Hackett says she’s looking forward to another three years.

“We have a lot of issues to tackle,” Hackett said. “I’m really looking forward to some young blood on there to bring in that perspective. It’s going to be great.”

Michelle Putz is in third with 897 votes. That puts her 85 votes ahead of fourth-place finisher Aaron Swanson, who garnered 812 votes.

“I wasn’t expecting to get as many votes as I did, which is surprising,” Swanson said. “But I’m looking forward to the absentees and we’ll see where it goes from there.”

Nearly 400 absentee and question ballots are due to be counted on Friday. Putz also said she’s looking forward to Friday’s count, but that she felt pretty good about the unofficial results.

“People were wonderful to work with,” Putz said. “I appreciated hearing from everybody I talked to, and I appreciate looking into what other people are thinking here in the future.”

Dallas Peavey rounded out the field in fifth place, with 700 votes.

Sitka’s school board race was not competitive this year. There were two open seats and incumbent Cass Pook will return to one of them. She won 1,685 votes Tuesday night.

The other seat will most likely be filled by Jennifer Robinson, the only registered write-in candidate. Because of the way Sitka counts its votes, only the number of write-in ballots is known. Exactly how many of those 668 votes went for Robinson is unclear.


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