Tribal citizens returned Benjamin Miyasato, Lawrence “Woody” Widmark, and Harvey Kitka to the Sitka Tribal Council, in elections held Tuesday (11-13-13). Former council member Thomas Gamble also won a seat. He last served in 2008.
Louise Brady and Stephanie Edenshaw were the runners-up, falling short by just a few votes. Despite having open voting at the Sheetka Kwan Community House for two weeks prior to election day, turnout was disappointingly low. While around 1,900 people in Sitka are eligible to vote in the council elections, Tribal officials estimate that only 140 people cast ballots to fill the four open seats.
Ben Miyasato, who will reclaim his seat as vice-chairman, received the most votes, with 107.
Miyasato says, “what surprised me was that the turnout was extremely low but at the same time that is sending a message that they’re not happy with their tribal government which is understandable given the financial difficulty they’re under. We hear your message.”
Also noting the low turnout, Gamble has this message for tribal citizens. “…I guess just this message to the tribal citizens that in order for positive change to happen their involvement is going to be requested continuously.”
The election results will be certified at the next council meeting on November 20th. The new terms for elected officials will begin December 1.