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Dodge, Lawrence, Roberts win Borough Assembly seats

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Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 12:35 am | Updated: 11:34 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — The balance of power on the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly is likely to remain the same after Tuesday night’s elections.

According to the latest results available Tuesday night, with nearly all the vote counted, the expected incoming candidates will include Kathryn Dodge, Van Lawrence and Lance Roberts.

Both Dodge and Lawrence share similar views to outgoing term-limited Assemblymembers Mike Musick and Nadine Winters. They have expressed support for the borough’s efforts to control air quality and sided with the unions in a recent dispute over a borough labor contract for the borough’s managerial employees.

Roberts will replace outgoing Assemblyman Matt Want as a conservative voice on the nine-member body. They shared similar views of reduced spending, limited government and were vocal opponents of the borough labor contract.

The three candidates were also the biggest fundraisers out of the entire field of seven candidates who threw their names into the race.

Moving ahead, the election will leave the assembly with a block of four liberal assembly members, three consistent conservatives and two conservative-leaning assembly members.

About 1,000 absentee ballots and 800 questioned ballots have yet to be counted. Borough clerk Mona Drexler said she doubted the numbers would shift Tuesday night’s results.

Assembly Seat A

Of the three assembly races, the race between Lawrence and challenger Joe Blanchard was the narrowest. Lawrence was leading with 51.09 percent of the vote, narrowly defeating his challenger Joe Blanchard who had 48.23 percent of the vote. Just 371 votes separate the two candidates.

Lawrence is a longtime attorney in Fairbanks. He ran for borough assembly last year, challenging Assemblyman Michael Dukes. He returned this year for another go, this time with better fundraising and a more honed campaign.

“I’m thrilled to apparently be in a position where I can win this seat,” he said. “I just want to thank all my supporters and I’m anxious to get started.”

Lawrence’s fundraising efforts topped Blanchard’s by a wide margin. Lawrence raked in $11,155 according to reports filed with the Alaska Political Offices Commission. Blanchard, by comparison, brought in $2,572.16.

It was the second time in two years that Blanchard has been defeated. As an incumbent, Blanchard was defeated by John Davies in a three-way race in 2011.

Assembly Seat F

Dodge carried 53.77 percent of the vote, topping her two opponents, Rocky MacDonald, who took in 37.66 percent, and William Stodden, who got 8.05 percent.

Dodge has a lengthy resume that includes work in both the private and public sector. She worked in telecommunications for Alyeska for 14 years before earning master’s degrees in organizational design and human development as well as a doctorate in human and organizational management.

She followed that up by serving as the borough’s economic development specialist under three mayors: Rhonda Boyles, Jim Whitaker and Luke Hopkins. A year ago she began work as the policy research director for the Cold Climate Housing Research Center.

Dodge was a first-time candidate and said she got a lot out of campaigning and attending candidate forums.

“One of the things I learned is that normally in life we don’t talk our politics,” she said. “When you run you start talking about and exploring similarities and differences.”

Dodge was the busiest fundraiser of the seven assembly candidates, taking in $26,821.57 according to campaign reports filed with the state.

MacDonald brought in $10,075.15 and Stodden filed an exemption, meaning he didn’t raise more than $5,000.

Assembly Seat G

Throughout the night Roberts held a safe lead over his challenger Cliff Russell. Roberts took 52.01 percent of the vote while Russell came in with 47.19 percent of the vote.

Roberts, an outspoken conservative and active Republican Party member, has been a familiar face in the assembly chambers during the last few years. He’s a regular attendant of the assembly meetings and often speak during his three-minutes of public testimony.

After seeing that he had safely won a seat on the assembly, Roberts was already sharing ideas for changes he wants to see in the borough.

“I’ve got a number of different ordinances planned,” he said.

Some of the pressing issues he says will be important will be loosening the borough’s rules on subdivision requirements and giving the public more time to offer input on ordinances in front of the borough.

Russell was a new face to politics and said his perspective as a union member would have been a good addition to the Borough Assembly.

Roberts had raised $10,315.03 to Russell’s $6,434.00, most of which has been union backing.

Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544 or follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics. Staff writer Sam Friedman contributed to this report.

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