Lowe, Lewis top vote-getters for city council

In unofficial Homer election results, with both precincts counted, Homer Mayor Beth Wythe easily won re-election to a second term with 654 votes to challenger Lindianne Sarno’s 350 votes. 

Two-term council member David Lewis also won re-election to the Homer City Council, finishing second with 531 votes in a four-person field to first-place winner Catriona Lowe. Lowe won election and took the highest number of votes, with 597. There were two seats on the ballot, with the top two voter-getters winning.

Corbin Arno came in third with 420 votes followed by Justin Arnold with 329 votes. For both, it was their second run in as many years for the council.

“Thanks,” Wythe said in response to her re-election. “It’s a different cast of people but not a total turnover.”

Sarno also thanked the people who supported her campaign.

“I will continue to listen to the people of Homer and speak bluntly at the citizen microphone at the city council meeting,” Sarno said.

Council member Barbara Howard did not run for re-election, so at least one new face on the council was a given. 

Lowe’s election might be a Homer milestone: the first immigrant and naturalized American citizen elected to the council. Lowe was born in England and moved to the United States after graduating from high school.

Still to be counted are 203 ballots, including 145 walk-in early voting ballots, 12 special needs ballots, 21 absentee by mail ballots, 9 electronic ballots and 16 questioned ballots. Nine absentee ballots still haven’t been received and will be counted if received by Friday and have a Tuesday or earlier postmark. 

With Arno 111 votes behind Lewis, it’s unlikely the election results will shift when the Canvass Board counts those ballots at 10 a.m. Friday at City Hall.

A proposition to form a Home Rule Charter Commission appeared to be failing, with 503 no votes to 429 yes votes. (See related story, page 1).

Mayor Wythe waited for results to come in at Homer City Hall late Tuesday night. Results were delayed until about 9:15 p.m. because the Homer 2 precinct AccuVote counting machine broke and those ballots had to be run through the Homer 1 precinct machine. Wythe then walked down the street to the Alibi where Lowe had an informal election results party and congratulated Lowe. Lowe high-fived her husband, Derek Reynolds, upon hearing the results. With her apparent election, Lowe said she can now shift from showing how she’s different from the other candidates.

“I can work on building consensus and finding what that is,” she said.

Lowe ran a spirited campaign. An avid bicycle commuter, Lowe could be seen riding around town with a campaign sign on her bicycle. She also waved signs on Pioneer Avenue Tuesday morning and afternoon. Supporters for Justin Arnold and Corbin Arno also waved signs.

“I took it very seriously,” Lowe said of her campaign. “I’m kind of an overachiever.”

Lewis will be going into his third term. He had said earlier that if re-elected this would be his last term on the council.

“I just want to thank everyone who voted for me, and everyone who voted,” Lewis said. “It’s nice that people think I’m doing a good job.”

Sarno said that during the campaign she got to know Wythe better.

“I really became fond of Beth Wythe. I disagree with her policies, but I respect her and will continue to dialogue with her,” she said. “If she and I exerted our energies to a common goal, we would make an awesome team.”

Arnold and Arno both said they were surprised that they lost. Many of their supporters backed the two as a pair, with Arnold and Arno signs often appearing together.

“I had some positive feedback on what me and Corbin believed in,” Arnold said. “I was very surprised by the results. Congratulations to them.”

“I was blown out of my mind by the results,” Arno said. “I’m very disappointed in the results, very shocked. My feelings with the voting in with Lewis and Lowe, the people want more government involvement. That’s not what I was for.”

Arno said he intends to put his Homer house on the market and move out of the city.

“Until the people of Homer wake up and realize that big government, big waste, I’m not going to participate in it,” he said.

City Clerk Jo Johnson said that poll workers at the Homer 2 precinct discovered its machine quit counting votes about 5 p.m. Voters could still cast ballots and the machine collected, but did not count, those ballots. After polls closed, those ballots were taken to City Hall. Homer 1 precinct workers did a count of Homer 1 ballots, and then its machine was reset and the Homer 2 ballots were counted.

“We wanted to assure we had an accurate count,” Johnson said. “We wanted to make sure we had the correct results out there.”

The AccuVote machines are owned and maintained by the state of Alaska.

Out of 4,463 registered voters, 1,059 people voted in Tuesday’s election, a 23-percent turnout. According to the U.S. Census, the 2014 population of Homer is an estimated 5,310 people. In 2010, the Census estimated 78 percent of Homer is age 18 or over. Using that percentage, the potential number of voters age 18 or older is about 4,142 — suggesting that voter registration rolls include people who have died or moved out of town.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com