Leah Berman Williams says even though she lost the race for Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly Seat H last week by only five votes, she didn’t request a recount. She says instead she decided to focus her energy on running again next year.
Williams says after borough officials completed their tally of absentee and questioned ballots Tuesday evening and concluded Aaron Lojewski won the seat by five votes, she had 24 hours to request a recount of the more than 18,000 votes cast in the race. And Williams says because she couldn’t get the information she needed, she decided against a recount.
“I was unable to get any information on how much it was going to cost,” she said, “and I didn’t think it would be prudent to agree to pay for a recount without knowing how much it was going to cost.”
Williams says she didn’t want to gamble on the outcome of a recount.
“According to borough code,” she said, “if I were to ask for a recount, because the race was not an absolute tie, I would be responsible for paying the entire cost of the recount, unless the results of the race flipped.”
So, like many losing candidates before her, Williams has set her sights on the future, declaring “There’s always next year!”
Williams says she hopes the Assembly will take a look at the recount provision and other election rules in the borough code. And she says next year she’ll base her campaign on many of the same issues she ran on this year – especially the need for the borough to retain control of air-quality regulation.
“I’m concerned about the ballot initiative that was just certified that would take that local control away,” she said. “And of course that would be coming up for a vote next year.”
Williams says she’ll also focus on the need for the borough to preserve funding for schools and quality-of-life services such as public transportation, libraries and parks.
“Probably the hardest thing that the Assembly will have to face next year, but I anticipate will be an ongoing problem, is how do we pay for the services that the citizens of the borough deserve in the face of state funding?”
Williams says area residents will have to think about how the borough can balance the need for services against the limitations of the borough tax cap. She notes that next year’s local-election ballot also will include the measure that asks voters whether the tax cap should be renewed.
Lojewski, Williams’s former opponent, sees the role of government differently.
“Well, she seems to be one that believes in government having more power over our personal lives, over our businesses and so forth,” he said. “And I’m just inherently anti-authoritarian. I believe in freedom.”
Lojewski and Angela Major, who also was elected to the Assembly last week, along with re-elected incumbent Christopher Quist, all will take their seats on the body later this month. Borough Clerk Nanci Ashford-Bingham says that’ll happen after the Assembly certifies the election results on Oct. 26th.
“Once the election is certified,” Ashford-Bingham said, “we will swear in the newly elected officials, and they take their office Monday the 30th.”
The Assembly will convene a special meeting next Thursday to consider altering the boundaries of the Pleasureland Service Area, and then a work session to consider library staffing and the conditions of borough transfer sites.