Early voting started Tuesday in an unusual midsummer special election to replace West Anchorage Assemblyman Tim Steele, who resigned last month over health issues.
The election is being conducted by mail, instead of through polling places. That means Election Day, Aug. 7, is actually just the last day to vote. Ballots will be mailed to registered West Anchorage voters July 17, and a number of drop-box locations will open the same day.
But West Anchorage voters can cast ballots in person now. On Tuesday, the city clerk's office opened up the city election headquarters at 619 E. Ship Creek Ave., Door D, where voters can request and cast ballots and also ask other questions.
More hours will be added as the election nears. Here's the schedule:
– Weekdays, July 10-July 23, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
– Weekdays, July 24-Aug. 6, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
– Saturday, Aug. 4, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
– Election Day, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The candidates hoping to replace Steele include Sam Moore, the president of the North Star Community Council; Austin Quinn-Davidson, the legal affairs director for the public lands nonprofit Great Land Trust; and Nikki Rose, the president of the Sand Lake Community Council. Dustin Darden, David Darden, Nick Danger and Tim Kelly are also running.
On Tuesday night, the Assembly voted to tap Ira Perman, the executive director of the Atwood Foundation and a former aide to Assemblyman Ernie Hall, to temporarily fill Steele's seat. Perman was sworn in and will serve and cast votes until voters pick Steele's replacement next month.
Earlier in the evening, Assembly members had deadlocked in three consecutive votes on picking a temporary representative, split 5-5 between Perman and Jim Kubitz, a former Assemblyman who oversees real estate and facilities at the Alaska Railroad. Eventually, Kubitz asked Assembly members to support Perman, who he said would "represent the district well."
The West Anchorage Assembly district generally runs south of Westchester Lagoon, west of Arctic Boulevard down to Tudor Road, from C Street to 76th Avenue, and then from Minnesota Drive to West Dimond Boulevard and Campbell Lake.
Check out an interactive map of the district here.
It's the second time Anchorage has officially held a vote-by-mail election, after testing out the new method in the April city election. The city saw its highest number of voters in history, though the cost of the election was nearly double the old poll-based elections.
The cost of the special election is about $150,000, according to documents submitted to the Anchorage Assembly.
It's been just about one month since Steele announced his resignation. City law sets up a tight window for special elections to replace Assembly members, and a sprint-paced political campaign.
By early this week, Quinn-Davidson had raised $34,200, far more cash than any of her rivals, the latest campaign disclosure report filings show. Quinn-Davidson had spent about one-third of the cash so far on advertising and campaign materials.
The reports show Moore had raised about $3,460 and Rose raised about $1,770. While fundraising doesn't predict the outcome of an election, it may suggest who has an edge in messaging.
Have questions about voting? Check out the city clerk's election website.