VanDyke leads city council race; bag ban repeal passes

Homer businessman Gus VanDyke leads the Homer City Council election with 544 votes.

Van Dyke is one of two candidates endorsed by Homer Voice for Business. The other endorsed candidate, Corbin Arno, is in a tight race for a second seat against incumbent council member Bryan Zak. Arno is just four votes ahead, with 461 votes to Zak’s 457. With 167 absentee, 36 questioned and four special needs ballots still to be counted, that lead could shift.

“Unfortunately, they’re going to drag it out until Friday and make me sweat it out,” Arno said of the results. “The anticipation is killing me.”

Justin Arnold, the commercial fisherman who led an initiative to repeal a ban on plastic shopping bags, is in fourth with 243 votes. Arnold got some good news, though: The bag ban repeal likely will pass, with 554 yes votes to 438 no votes reported in unofficial results.

 “I’m glad that people got out and voted. That’s the good thing,” VanDyke said. “If it holds true and I stay elected, I will do the best I can to fulfill the wishes and needs of the people of Homer.”

Zak, a two-term council member first elected in 2008 for a two-year seat, congratulated VanDyke on his apparent win.

“It was a good race by all. Congratulations to Gus for sure,” Zak said. “He’ll be a good addition to the council.”

Arno said he was glad to see voters turned out and spoke their mind.

“That’s what it’s all about — the voice of the people,” he said.

The people also had a voice in the proposed bag ban repeal. Arnold, a political newcomer, like VanDyke and Arno, researched the process for repealing a city ordinance and spearheaded the initiative to repeal the ban on retailers providing onion-skin thin shopping bags. Arnold said his main objection to the bag ban was philosophical.

“I’m not balloting for the bags so much as I’m balloting against the government telling us not to use them,” he had said earlier.

Zak said the repeal sent a clear message.

“If the voters want to repeal it, the voice will be heard,” he said.

The city canvass board meets at 10 a.m. Friday in Homer City Hall to review ballots and determine the final outcome. Counting all ballots, there were 1,199 ballots cast out of 4,337 registered voters, a 27 percent turnout. However, because Alaska is conservative about purging voter rolls, registration numbers tend to be inflated.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at