“I Voted” stickers wait on a table in the Kachemak Community Center for voters to pick them up Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 in Kachemak City, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

“I Voted” stickers wait on a table in the Kachemak Community Center for voters to pick them up Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 in Kachemak City, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Cooper concedes in Alaska House race

Rep. Sarah Vance elected to a second term

Rep. Sarah Vance (R-Homer) has won reelection to the District 31 seat in the Alaska House of Representatives.

The race is final now that the Alaska Division of Elections finished counting absentee, early and questioned ballots from House District 31 on Saturday afternoon. Vance’s challenger, former Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly President Kelly Cooper, conceded on Saturday with a statement published on her official campaign Facebook page.

There are no outstanding received ballots left to count. However, a small number of additional absentee ballots may continue to trickle in for those districts, as the deadline for them to be received by mail from outside the state is Nov. 18.

Vance earned 6,468 votes, or 54.2%, compared to Cooper’s 5,434 votes, or 45.6%. There were 23 write-in votes in the District 31 race.

District 31 had 6,625 absentee ballots that were accepted in full, and another 116 that were partially accepted. Those ballots included those turned in by mail, by fax, and online, as well as special needs ballots. District 31 also had 53 early ballots and 146 questioned ballots that were accepted in full. There were 160 partially accepted questioned ballots.

Reached by phone Saturday, Vance said she was very pleased she was able to maintain the lead she gained early on after Election Night. When in-person Election Day ballots were counted, Vance led Cooper by about 70% to 30%. Cooper closed that gap to a 54%-45% margin when absentee ballots were counted.

“I’m obviously thrilled with the incredible turnout,” Vance said.

Vance said she was happy her campaign was successful considering that she was outspent by Cooper.

Now, she’s looking forward to the next session and getting back to work on issues facing the state — namely, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and balancing the budget. Vance also said she’s still committed to restoring the Permanent Fund Dividend according the 1986 formula.

“I look forward to continuing to represent this district,” she said.

Vance thanked Cooper for running and for her service to the community. She also thanked the community for being so engaged in the election process this year, despite the challenges that COVID-19 posed to campaigning.

Cooper, reached by phone Saturday, said the pandemic affected how she could campaign. She does better when she can engage face to face, but she she wasn’t willing to sacrifice people’s safety during the pandemic for that.

“We knew that our district is pretty conservative to begin with, based on its makeup and all its communities,” Cooper said.

She said she feels her campaign went out and gave it a good shot.

Cooper said she’s been overwhelmed by the amount of support she received from volunteers both young and old, and that she’ll be looking forward for ways to serve the community down the road.

“I’m sure there’ll be something that’ll open up that I can help with,” she said.

Both Cooper and Vance called for a return to civility, cooperation and working together within the community.

“There can be all kinds of political drama, but when it comes down to it, we are going to help each other out,” Vance said.

For full state election results, visit the division of elections at elections.alaska.gov/doc/info/ElectionResults.php

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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