Low voting turnouts in Ketchikan

Cody Kemble
Staff Writer

The saying “every vote counts” is one that holds true in local elections. Direct democracy is something that all educated Americans should participate in. The number of educated voters in Ketchikan is quite low.
“At a local level more than a national level, it makes a huge difference,” Kayhi Government teacher David Mitchel said. “And yet we continue to see much lower rates of voter participation in local government, even though it makes a huge impact on your life.”
In the 2016 Borough Assembly election, 4,892 votes were cast, and 4,146 votes in the School Board election.
Historically, Ketchikan has had pretty low voter turnout for it’s local elections.
“Only 20% of residents vote,” Mitchel said. “So it usually comes down to not many votes.”
Ketchikan will be holding a local election on Oct. 2. The elections will feature candidates for Borough Assembly, School Board, City Council, and City Mayor.
“The first thing in local elections is we need good people to run,” Mitchel said. “And we need to have options, so that’s nice when this year there seems to be enough people to give us some options and good candidates.”
There are plenty of candidates in this years local election, with six people running for two seats on the Borough Assembly. Dan Bockhorst, Austin Otos, Danielle Pratt, Sven Westergard, James Montgomery, and Felix Wong are all battling for those two seats.
Three vacant seats are looking to be filled on the School Board by five candidates. The candidates are Matt Eisenhower, Sonya Skan, Rachel Breithaupt, Bridget Mattson, and Lana Boler.
City Council has two seats and four candidates. Janalee L. Gage, Sam Bergeron, Dragon London, and Spencer Strassburg and looking to fill the two seats.
Bob Sivertsen is the lone candidate for City Mayor.
Mitchel said that voters should vote on the character of candidates, not on political affiliation.
“It’s not based all on ideology,” Mitchel said. “Get to know their perspective on issues and get to know who they are and their character. Have conversations about what they want to do.”

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