Mayor Mim McConnell looks on as ballots from Sitka's Municipal Election are carried in to the city clerk. She learned she had been reelected minutes later. (KCAW photo/Rachel Waldholz)

Mayor Mim McConnell looks on as ballots from Sitka’s Municipal Election are carried in to the city clerk. McConnell learned she had been reelected minutes later. (KCAW photo/Rachel Waldholz)

Sitka voters returned incumbent Mayor Mim McConnell to office for a second term, but they also chose two newcomers for the Sitka Assembly. If the results hold after all absentee votes are counted on Friday, Sitka may have one of the youngest assemblies in recent memory.


There were five candidates for two open seats on the assembly, and when votes were counted Tuesday night, 29-year-old local business-owner Steven Eisenbeisz was in the lead, with 666 votes. He was followed by 34-year-old Tristan Guevin, a planner for the Sitka Tribe of Alaska who also manages the tribe’s Tlingit language revitalization program.

Voting during Sitka's 2014 municipal election. (KCAW photo/Rachel Waldholz)

Voting during Sitka’s 2014 municipal election. (KCAW photo/Rachel Waldholz)

Veteran assembly member Thor Christianson was within striking distance, with 621 votes, just 34 votes behind Guevin. With almost 250 absentee votes still to be counted on Friday, Christianson could close the gap, but he said he doesn’t expect to.

“I can’t say as I’m frankly all that displeased,” Christianson said. “Part of the reason I got in, in the first place, was that I didn’t really know any of the people running. I kinda got to know them, in this process. I think both Tristan and Steve would do well. ”

Meanwhile, in the mayor’s race, Mim McConnell leads 26-year-old challenger Orion Hughes-Knowles, 857 votes to 600.

KCAW: Is that closer than you expected it to be?

McConnell: Yeah, it might be a little bit. But that’s fine, that’s good. I’m fine with that. And of course we still do have the absentee ballots to come in…

McConnell, who said during election forums that being mayor was “probably one of the most amazing experiences” of her life, said she is delighted. She said that in her second term she wants to spearhead an effort to create a strategic plan for the city.

“Some strategic planning about how to move forward fiscally with our city government, how we’re going to fund it, and what services we want to keep, and what we don’t want to keep,” McConnell said. “I think the last assembly made a pretty strong commitment to not kicking the can down the road, and so I take that seriously, and I’m going to be doing everything I can to make sure we don’t let that happen.”

City Administrator Mark Gorman also watched the results come in Tuesday night. With the two likely assembly winners under 35, he said it looked like a new generation asserting itself.

“We’re looking at a very youthful assembly,” he said. “Certainly in my history in Sitka, I don’t think the aggregate age of the assembly has been ever as young as this…I think that in itself is very encouraging.”

Eisenbeisz and Guevin would join assembly members Matt Hunter and Aaron Swanson, who were both elected in the past two years on platforms of representing a younger demographic in Sitka.

But it wasn’t all new faces Tuesday night. In an uncontested race, the two seats on the Sitka School Board went to Tim Fulton and Tom Conley, both veteran board members.

You can find the full, unofficial election results from Sitka here. Election results are unofficial until all absentee ballots are counted and the final tallies are certified by the Sitka Assembly, at its next regular meeting.