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Olson and Foster Win Re-election

Rep. Neal Foster, left, and Sen. Donny Olson during a discussion of legislative priorities with the City Council and the pubic.

Incumbents Senator Donny Olson and Representative Neal Foster have won their races for re-election according to unofficial results.

All precincts in the state are now reporting results.

For Senate District T, incumbent Democrat Donny Olson has won with 64% of the vote over Republican Thomas Baker of Kotzebue who has 34% of the vote. Olson leads by about 2500 votes. Estimates from Alaska Public Media show that the district has approximately 1,000 uncounted early and absentee votes to be counted, meaning Olson will still likely win the race.  

Democrat and incumbent Representative Neal Foster of House District 39 has already secured 63% of the vote, giving him a solid win over Republican Dan Holmes of Nome who has 17% of the vote. Write-ins accounted for 19% of the vote in District 39. Approximately 500 early and absentee votes will not be counted until next week.

Even with Tuesday’s results being incomplete, Olson planned to spend the night in celebration anyway. The Senator from Golovin believes all elections should be celebrated regardless of whether or not he wins or loses.

“We celebrate one way or the other that we have the opportunity to go ahead and vote, we have the right to go ahead and do that. People have played with their lives for this for that. And so I like that privilege to celebrate that occasion and help people around the districts around the state around the nation do the same thing.”

He spent Tuesday evening grilling steak and shrimp on the barbecue in Golovin with his wife and six children.

As of Wednesday morning, Representative Foster felt confident about his lead but remained cautious. But he acknowledged that there are still uncertainties with other races and the ballot measures.  

“I think everybody has had to just kind of pace themselves and realize that the election night is one thing, but we’re going to have to it could be seven to 10 days after that until we really know for sure. And so I’ve just kind of allowed my mind to relax. We’ve got a long way to go.”

Both Foster and Olson were challenged by first-time candidates. Dan Holmes of Nome admitted Tuesday that he didn’t feel he had a strong chance of beating Foster.

“If I don’t prevail, I’ll feel like I’ve gotten the message out that the government should not be taking our share of the PFD. They have their share to deal with, they have other sources of income. And that our share is our share.”

Still, Holmes said his conversations with voters around the district have made him more aware of issues like the lack of infrastructure and sewer systems in some rural communities. He says he’d like to continue to be an advocate for those issues.

Thomas Baker, the current Vice-Mayor of Kotzebue, says he’s proud of his grassroots campaign. He ran on a platform of tighter government spending that would also include a larger PFD based on a 1982 statute. He would maybe consider a future run, in a few years.

“I’m definitely going to keep advocating for these things to be fixed, whether it’s improvements to Medicaid, whether it’s infrastructure to getting resources for education, or for jobs for public safety. So, in one way or another, I’m going to continue doing what I’m doing and trying to fight for my people.”

Baker ran on a platform of tighter government spending that would also include a larger PFD based on a 1982 statute.

There is still a long way to go for the rest of the state. Absentee ballots and early votes conducted after October 29th have not yet been counted. The Division does not plan to start counting those votes until next Tuesday.

Meanwhile, nationwide, the election results for the Presidential race are still inconclusive for the same reason. Hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots have yet to be counted and so an official winner has not been determined.

Image at top: Rep. Neal Foster, and Sen. Donny Olson during a discussion of legislative priorities with the Nome City Council and the public. Photo from KNOM file (2014).

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