Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Luke Hopkins Officially Wins Election To Become The New Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor, But Opponent Tammie Wilson May Go To The State House

It's now official. After the final count of early, absentee and questioned ballots, Luke Hopkins widened his lead over Tammie Wilson from 617 votes to 844 votes to be officially declared the winner of the November 3rd runoff election in Fairbanks North Star Borough mayoral race. Hopkins drew 9,107 votes to Wilson’s 8,263 votes. Unofficial results by precinct HERE.

The runoff was necessitated because no candidate in the October 7th general election drew the 40+ percent necessary to avoid a runoff. Hopkins and Wilson were the top two finishers, and it was hoped that most of the supporters of the other candidates would have migrated to Wilson. This did not happen.

Hopkins takes office on Monday November 17th, and the borough will begin the process of naming his replacement on the Assembly. As for Tammie Wilson, she retains her seat on the Borough Assembly for the time being; her seat isn't up for grabs until 2011.

However, bigger things may be in store for Tammie Wilson. Her name, along with the names of North Pole Mayor Doug Isaacson and District Republican Party Vice-Chairman Mike Prax, have been forwarded to Governor Sean Parnell as nominees to replace John Coghill as District 11 representative. Coghill was selected by Parnell in October to replace Gene Therriault as the new District F senator when Therriault resigned in August to become Parnell's senior policy advisor on Alaska energy.

The three are further discussed in this News-Miner article. Tammie Wilson has spent one year on the Borough Assembly, having previously grown into the role of neighborhood organizer. But she said she’s also found time to follow state issues and has a daughter who worked as staff for a Palmer-based state lawmaker. Wilson said she worries state spending could be too high and also generally said the state could do more to help Fairbanks’ neighborhood-level road service areas. Wilson first moved to Alaska seven and a half years ago, while others on the list of applicants have lived here far longer. But she said strong support during this fall mayor’s election proved voters support her largely conservative messages, something that has already curried favor with the district committee, causing it to put her on their short list to replace Coghill.

Doug Isaacson is starting his second term as North Pole’s mayor. A former mortgage broker who previously served on the city’s council, he beat a slate of challengers to keep the mayor’s post last month. Isaacson said his experience with city issues would help him serve effectively at the state level, whether it be on statewide issues or direct help for North Pole. The town of 2,000 serves a much more populated surrounding area and hosts multiple oil refineries and electrical generation plants, making it a notable cog in the state’s energy wheel.

Mike Prax is a former Borough Assembly member and current district vice chairman for the Republican Party. Prax works with the issues group Clean Team Alaska and is a former Republican Party district chairman for a separate district.

The person selected would only serve through 2010, unless he/she ran for and won an election in November 2010. At this point, I believe Tammie Wilson has the edge, because I don't think Parnell would want to strip North Pole of their newly-reelected mayor, and Prax' credentials aren't nearly as impressive as those of Wilson and Isaacson. Update November 24th: Governor Sean Parnell did indeed select Tammie Wilson to fill the vacant House seat.

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