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Voters’ Ire with Incumbents Contributes to Heavy Turnout in Outlying Communities

Turnout was heavy Tuesday at several polling places in some communities around the Interior.

The chairwoman supervising the polling place at North Pole City Hall said Tuesday she thinks turnout is the biggest for a midterm general election turnout she’s seen in the many years she’s been working at the polls there.

Barb Sevier says when she opened the doors to North Pole City Hall at 7 a.m. Tuesday, about 20 people were already lined up, waiting to get in.

Poll workers in Salcha also reported a big turnout. Area resident Scott Burnett says he thinks a lot of voters there turned out for the same reason he did.

“It’s just time to change ’em all,” Burnett said. “Things haven’t changed in several years – it’s time for a change!”

In Delta Junction, voters often had to wait in line throughout the day to sign in at the Delta Community Center.

Several of them, like Josh Padgett, said they also were motivated to turn out so they could make some changes.

“I voted for a lot of new blood, I guess you might say,” he said. “Because I think it’s time for change.”

Even though much of the Interior is solidly Republican, Padgett says he wasn’t motivated solely by partisanship. He says he just wanted the best people for the job.

“I’m not a liberal, and I’m not a Republican. I choose who I think is going to be best for the country and for Alaska,” he said. “And I voted a little bit of both, whoever I felt would do the best thing for the state and the country as a whole.”      

North Pole resident Amber Craine believes voters were like her motivated to turn out by the marijuana-regulating ballot initiative.

“I just think a lot more people are showing up today because of ballot measure two," she said. “I know that was a big reason for me to come out today.”   

Craine didn’t offer which way she voted on the initiative. But Margie Houger, who’d just left her polling place at Salcha School, strongly supports the pro-pot initiative. She says legalization would enable police to spend more time on more serious crimes.

“There is so much more that they can spend their time on,” she said. “So I’m all for legalizing it just so that dangerous drugs and stuff can be off the streets, because I have kids and grandkids.”

Proposition 2 appeared headed to victory early this morning. So the support for the marijuana initiative seems to be the only voter feedback from Tuesday’s informal survey to accurately reflect what most voters actually favored.

Despite all the grumbling about throwing the bums out, all but one lawmaker from the Interior – Fairbanks House district 5 Representative Pete Higgins – were re-elected Tuesday.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.