Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 6:05 PM on Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Howard, Lewis top vote-getters in race for 2 city council seats

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

Less than an hour after polls closed, the Homer City Clerk's office posted results for the city council race. With two of three candidates to be elected, unofficial results showed:

• Incumbent Barbara Howard: 446 votes or 72 percent of the vote;

• Incumbent David Lewis: 400 votes or 64 percent of the vote;

• Former city council member Mike Heimbuch: 383 votes or 61 percent of the vote.

Ninety-seven absentee, questioned and special needs ballots will be counted by the canvass board when it meets Friday morning, said Jo Johnson, city clerk.

Howard was celebrating her lead Tuesday evening.

"I am honored and thrilled. I appreciate the faith the citizens have in me," said Howard, who was appointed to the city council in 2008 and re-elected in 2009. "I will work very hard to never let them down. This is a huge responsibility. To be re-elected is even more of a responsibility than to be elected because it's a statement that you're doing good and to keep on."

Lewis was taking a more cautious approach to Tuesday's results, saying the count wasn't enough to call the race over.

"We'll have to wait until the canvass board meets Friday and then I'll find out if I get to watch Monday night football four weeks in a row," said Lewis, referring to the council's Monday meetings. "It'll be interesting."

Lewis was elected to the council in 2008.

Heimbuch, who was appointed to the council in 2005 and won a bid for re-election in October of that year, said he didn't anticipate the final tally would change the outcome of the council race.

"I fully anticipate it will be upheld even though it's 17 votes," said Heimbuch. "There's probably a good likelihood it will be maintained."

Heimbuch said the real story of the day was the low voter turnout. With 4,277 registered voters within the city limits, voters directed to select two of the three candidates and with the 1,238 votes cast, that is about a 14.47 percent voter turnout.

"It may very well be the lowest voter turnout we've had," said Heimbuch.

According to Johnson, there was a 28 percent voter turnout in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, it dropped to 23 percent.

"There really were not a lot of dynamic issues that you could choose amongst candidates. Everybody that ran wanted to do it, was willing to do it and are decent people," said Heimbuch. "At the end of the day, when you have less than 20 percent turnout, it's hard to read anything into it."

The results of the city council election will be certified at the council's Oct. 10 meting. Swearing in of the newly elected council members will be done at a special meeting of the city council at 6 p.m. Oct. 17.