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Neal Foster holds narrow lead in House District 39 race after first count of election results

Stickers proclaiming “Naliġaaniktuŋa!” or "I Voted!" in Iñupiaq, at the polls in Nome. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM.
Stickers proclaiming “Naliġaaniktuŋa!” or "I Voted!" in Iñupiaq, at the polls in Nome. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM.

UPDATE 11/28/2022:

Barring a recount or challenge to the election results, Neal Foster will remain the representative for the Bering Strait region in the State Legislature. He has held that seat since 2009.

As of Nov. 23, Foster had 51% of the votes for House District 39 compared to Tyler Ivanoff’s 48%.

At one point during the same week, only ten votes separated the incumbent Foster from his Independence Party challenger, Ivanoff.

After absentee and mail-in ballots were tabulated on Wednesday, the Division of Elections put Foster ahead by about one-hundred votes.

This year’s race for HD-39 was a rematch of the 2020 election between two Western Alaskans who originally took different stances on the Permanent Fund Dividend. This time around though, Foster adjusted his views saying he supports paying out a full PFD under a 1984 state law.

Ivanoff, a teacher in Shishmaref, said he has always been in favor of providing Alaskans with a full PFD. 

Ivanoff is unlikely to win this year’s election

“If I don’t win then I’ve pushed Foster to listen to his constituents. But if I do win, I’ll do my best to support the people’s ideologies and do my best as a leader,” Ivanoff told the Alaska Beacon.

These election results are still considered unofficial until the Division of Elections certifies them next week.

ORIGINAL 11/10/2022:

Unofficial election results show incumbent Neal Foster of Nome leading Tyler Ivanoff of Shishmaref by 1% of the vote. Not all votes have been tallied yet. None have come in from Gambell as of the morning of Nov. 9.

The final tabulations won’t be available until Nov. 23 when all eligible ballots are reviewed and counted, including mail-in ballots, according to the Division of Elections. For now, Foster has 50.1% of the vote while Ivanoff has 49.1%.

In Western Alaska, voter turnout was just below 30% for the region at 29.49% or 3,187 votes. Teller got a late start at its polling location, but the community had 23% turnout of registered voters, which was not the lowest in House District 39. Hooper Bay only saw 22% turnout and the Division of Elections had not reported any votes coming from Gambell before the airing of this story.

As a whole, House District 39 favored Senator Lisa Murkowski over Kelly Tshibaka by a vast majority with more than five to one in most communities. Similarly, Congresswoman Mary Peltola was the crowd favorite in the region, winning 79.63% of total votes counted thus far.

In the race for Governor, Western Alaskans chose incumbent Mike Dunleavy and Nancy Dalhstrom as their first choice, followed by former governor Bill Walker and Heidi Drygas. Third was Les Gara and Jessica Cook with 21.37% of the vote, less than 10% behind Walker and Drygas. Charlie Pierce and Edie Grunwald received just under 5% of the vote.

For Ballot Measure One, Western Alaskans voted similarly to the rest of the state, with 70% saying No to holding a Constitutional Convention.

This story will be updated when final election results are available in two weeks on Nov. 23.

Image at top: Stickers proclaiming “Naliġaaniktuŋa!” or “I Voted!” in Iñupiaq, at the polls in Nome. Photo by Matthew F. Smith, KNOM.

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