Voter Turnout Below Norm, Small Number of Candidates Run for 2019 Nome Election

Unofficial results for the Nome Municipal election are in, and Mayor Richard Beneville will be serving Nome for another two-year term. A small group of excited Nome-ites gathered in Old St. Joseph’s Hall last night to listen to City Clerk Bryant Hammond count the results.

“In the race for mayor, Richard Beneville garnered 300 votes and Keith Morrison garnered 175 votes, 61 % to Richard and 36% to Keith.”

City Clerk Bryant Hammond counts votes as volunteer Erin Lillie breaks down polls. Photo from Emily Hofstaedter, KNOM (2019)

There were six other seats on yesterday’s ballot but all of those candidates ran unopposed. Current sitting City Councilmembers Jerald Brown and Mark Johnson will remain in seats E and F, respectively. Brown had 417 votes and Johnson had 421 votes. There was a similar situation in the Board of Education: Darlene Trigg with 385 votes will retain seat A and Barb Amarok stays in Seat E with 404 votes. Both City Council and School Board have three -year terms. Pat Knoedel ran unopposed for the Utility Board and will serve a two-year term in Seat A. He had 434 votes.

Utility Board Seat D was open but with no candidates running on the ballot, leaving Nome residents to opt for a write-in if they chose. Larry Pederson had the most write-in votes with 29 and Jerald Hughes had 25 but Clerk Hammond says that doesn’t give Pederson the seat.

“Neither one of which garnered 50% of the vote plus one for a sufficient plurality so it appears we will go to a run-off for that seat.”

There was a total of 170 write-ins for the open Utility Board seat D.

Councilmember Doug Johnson (left) and Nome resident Robert Sherman, Jr. (right) show their enjoyment for voting. Photo from Emily Hofstaedter, KNOM (2019).

As the municipal election went on yesterday, KNOM spoke with some of the voters who came to cast their ballots. John Baker of Nome says he’s voted in almost every election since he turned 18.

“This one’s kind of memorable because there’s not a whole lot of choices. I was kind of surprised that more people didn’t step-up.”

There weren’t many people stepping up to vote either. Clerk Hammond said 492 ballots were cast and they have a negligible amount of question votes. He didn’t have the number of those votes on hand, but he thought there were less than six.

According to the Division of Elections, there are 2662 voters registered in both east and west Nome precincts, which makes voter turn-out approximately 18.48%. Hammond says the city keeps a rough estimate of annual municipal election turn-out and he said it’s normally been around 30% but higher in governor’s elections years.

Jake Kenick of Nome, who identifies as a veteran, laughed when he recalled a year with big voter turn-out.

“One of the ballot measures that had come up years ago was whether or not they should be selling pull-tabs in Nome and more people turned out for that than they did for the governor’s ballot which was a surprise. But as veterans we vote, its just something that is put in your mind-set. We fought for that right. I encourage everybody to use their voice to vote and be heard.”

Clerk Bryant Hammond expects official election results to be available Thursday at noon after they are canvased.

Deputy Clerk Christine Piscoya (left) and volunteer Carol Gales (right) tally votes at Old St. Joe’s, Nome’s polling place. Photo from Emily Hofstaedter, KNOM (2019).

Image at top: Voting signs outside of Nome’s polling place. Photo from Emily Hofstaedter, KNOM (2019)