The first batch of results are in for the Anchorage municipal election, and the Assembly and school board incumbents are largely holding off their conservative challengers who united their efforts to try to unseat them.
The first tally posted Tuesday night includes just over 41,300 ballots. There are still thousands of ballots yet to be counted.
So far, in the year’s most expensive race, incumbent Forrest Dunbar is holding a lead over challenger Stephanie Taylor to represent East Anchorage on the Anchorage Assembly. Initial results show Dunbar with 57% of the vote, Taylor with 41% and Christopher Hall with 3%.
And for a Midtown Anchorage Assembly seat, incumbent Meg Zaletel has a lead with 54% of the vote over Kathy Henslee’s 46%.
To represent West Anchorage, Assembly member Kameron Perez-Verdia is holding a lead over challengers Liz Vazquez and Nial Sherwood Williams. Perez-Verdia has 54% of the vote with Vazquez at 40% and Williams at 5%.
One race has an incumbent trailing the challenger: the race for a South Anchorage Assembly seat. Randy Sulte has a razor-thin lead over incumbent John Weddleton with nearly 50% of the vote to Weddleton’s 48%, just 153 votes separate them. Fellow challenger Darin Colbry picked up 2% of the vote.
In the race for an Eagle River Assembly seat, the only race without an incumbent, Kevin Cross is holding a lead over challengers Gretchen Wehmhoff and Vanessa Stephens. Cross has 59% of the vote to Wehmhoff’s 36% and Stephens’s 5%. Cross had been endorsed by Crystal Kennedy, a conservative Assembly member who chose not to run for re-election.
As for the Anchorage School Board, Margo Bellamy, school board president, is ahead so far, with 50% of the vote to challenger Mark Anthony Cox’s 38% and Dan Loring’s 3%. Fellow incumbent Kelly Lessens has 51% of the vote to Rachel Ries’s 40% and Dustin Darden’s 5%.
This year’s municipal election was notable for the amount of money pouring into the races and for the coordination among like-minded candidates.
While the races are technically non-partisan, a slate of conservative Assembly and school board candidates fundraised and campaigned together to unseat the incumbents, with support from Mayor Dave Bronson. The group included Assembly candidates Henslee, Sulte, Taylor and Vazquez, plus school board candidates Cox and Ries.
On the incumbent side, Bellamy and Lessens held a joint fundraiser last month for their re-election campaigns.
So far, all bonds are passing, though the bond for the Anchorage School District and another for capital improvements to areawide facilities both have just barely more than 50% support.
The city clerk’s office is set to update results by 5 p.m. every night this week until all votes are counted. Election results will be certified on April 26.