Anchorage Midtown Assemblyman Dick Traini, who lost his seat to Elvi Gray-Jackson in the April 1st, 2008 municipal election, has decided not to contest the outcome. He announced his decision in an e-mail sent to local media outlets on April 4th. KTUU Channel 2 and the ADN's Alaska Politics blog both received copies of it and posted it on their websites. Here's the e-mail:
I would like to thank the voters for all of the support and encouragement they have given me during this campaign, and during my years of public service on the Anchorage Assembly. While the lawsuit brought against the municipality cast confusion on my eligibility as a candidate and disenfranchised a portion of Midtown voters, I am respectfully declining to challenge the election.
There are pressing issues ahead for our city and I support the new Assembly addressing these issues without distraction. I am not a career politician. I have had the honor of serving over 10 years on both the Campbell Park Community Council and as your Midtown Assemblyperson. I have done so in conjunction with my career in the Air National Guard and as a family counselor on Elmendorf Air Force Base. I could not have done so without the tremendous support of my family, friends, and community. I have made Anchorage my home since 1971 and now, more than ever, continue to believe in and be grateful for the everyday citizens that step forward and make Anchorage a great place to live.
Thank you to the people of Anchorage for the kindness, support, and the opportunity you gave me to help make a difference in our community.
- Dick Traini, Anchorage
Traini could have challenged the results, and the possibility of a new election ordered would have been realistic. When District Court Judge Arthur Morse ruled his candidacy invalid on March 17th, it unquestionably affected the outcome by misleading many voters into believing their votes for him wouldn't count. The decision also prompted KAKM Channel 7 to disallow his participation in the candidate debate against Gray-Jackson on "Running", aired on March 26th. And this is a good time to clear up a rumour - the decision to disallow him was NOT made by the moderator, Michael Carey, although Carey was a known supporter of Gray-Jackson. The decision was made by KAKM News Director Duncan Moon, who explained that he had to go with the official judicial ruling applicable at the time. It wasn't until March 27th that the Alaska Supreme Court overruled Judge Morse and reinstated Traini. But the 10 lost days of campaigning and fund-raising doomed him.
Traini's decision undoubtedly was influenced by the fact that he doesn't want to appear as a sore loser, and some people might apparently portray him as such if he was to appeal. By taking a hit here, he preserves future political capital. It's been rumoured that he might want to run for mayor in 2009. But Traini also recognizes that Elvi Gray-Jackson, by virtue of her long service as an Assembly clerk, knows the nuts and bolts of the job. But although she may already be skilled in the technical functions of the job, it remains to be seen whether her political vision best serves the community. Nevertheless, she deserves the same customary political "honeymoon" accorded to other newly-elected politicians.