Conservative candidates appear to have flipped a couple of assembly seats, one Fairbanks council seat and maintained the office of Fairbanks mayor in the 2019 local elections.
Progressives were either disappointed or sanguine, judging from interviews and social media posts Wednesday.
Former Fairbanks North Star Borough Assemblyman Lance Roberts called the elections the biggest win for local conservatives in over a decade.
“The candidates were better coordinated than I have ever seen,” he said. “They did a great job of working together to get their message out.”
The election isn’t final. More than 2,000 early, absentee and questioned ballots will be counted Tuesday.
Even so, the results are unlikely to change. Odds favor election night winners.
Cheryl Markwood, president of the Republican Women of Fairbanks, said coordination between conservative candidates was part of the strategy to get them elected.
“We pooled our resources and held specific meet and greets for everybody,” she said.
They also coordinated neighborhood canvassing — an idea they stole from the Democrats, she said.
Another strategy that helped conservative candidates is they didn’t compete against one another. The conservative candidates were spread out among all of the local races.
“We said, ‘Let’s make sure that we are not eating our own,’” Markwood said.
Christine Robbins, a property rights activist, helped coordinate the conservatives’ campaigns. She thinks the election results show a concern among residents about the progressive agenda that the borough has been advancing.
Voter participation this year was low.
An election summary report by the borough shows 16 percent of registered voters in Fairbanks and the borough participated in the elections.
Voter participation has been higher in recent years.
Outspoken progressive Hannah Hill said she knows people who have a detailed grasp of the lineage of imaginary monarchs on the show “Game of Thrones’ but who “can’t tell me the people who are running for Borough Assembly or City Council.”
“That, to me, is the upsetting thing about this election,” she said.
Former Assemblyman Mike Musick acknowledged the progressives are likely losing seats but said he is hopeful about the new leaders taking office.
“I don’t think there was any bad candidate running,” he said. “I think they were all good. A couple of people I support didn’t win. A couple of people I support won. I feel, on balance, it was a good election.”
Doug Tansy, president of the Fairbanks Central Labor Council, also expressed hope. Labor union PACs wrote the biggest checks of the 2019 local election season, supporting progressive candidates.
Tansy said that while the labor unions expressed their candidate preferences, they can still work with their second or third choice.
All of the local candidates ran a good, positive campaign, Tansy said.
“I congratulate everybody,” he said. “We work with everybody. There are no deal breakers, necessarily, for any of these races.”
Several local candidates are trailing by many hundreds of votes but said they won’t concede until every vote is counted.
Assemblyman Geoffry Wildridge needs to make up more than 700 votes to overcome challenger Jimi Cash. Assemblyman Shaun Tacke is 1,317 votes behind Frank Tomaszewski. Jeffrey Rentzel is trailing Assemblywoman Mindy O’Neall by 904 votes.
All three men said they are holding out hope.
“You never know what is going to happen,” Rentzel said. “God works in mysterious ways.”
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7545. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.