The U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday it is monitoring local elections in three rural Alaska regions to ensure compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act.
The elections being monitored are those on the North Slope, where voters are choosing a new borough mayor and several other officials, in the Dillingham and Kusilvak census areas, where voters are choosing among various school board and city council candidates.
The regions being monitored are largely Alaska Native. Most North Slope Borough residents are Inupiat, while residents of the Dillingham Census Area and the Kusilvak Census area are largely Yup’ik.
The North Slope Borough mayor’s race promises to be among the most-watched of the contests.
The Minnesota-sized borough, home to about 11,000 people, is the northernmost regional government in the nation. It holds some of North America’s biggest oil fields and big swathes of federal land, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It is also home to the Inupiat-owned Arctic Slope Regional Corp., the largest Alaska-owned company.
Among the four candidates for mayor are state Rep. Josiah Patkotak, I-Utqiagvik, who would leave the Legislature if he wins Tuesday’s election. Patkotak is a key member of the slim, mostly Republican majority in the state House.
Other candidates are Doreen Lampe, a longtime borough assembly member; John Hopson Jr., a former Wainwright mayor who is currently on the borough assembly; and Anthony Edwardsen, a former president of the Ukpeagvik Iñupiat Corporation, the village Native corporation for Utqiagvik.
Initial results Wednesday had Patkotak leading the race with 54% of the vote, trailed by Hopson at 23% and Lampe at 14%.
There are numerous other local elections around Alaska on Tuesday, including state-administered elections for school boards in Rural Education Attendance Areas, which are areas outside of any organized boroughs.
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