Unofficial results from Tuesday's mayoral election show Mayor Jim Matherly received the majority of votes in eight of the city's 12 precincts.
Matherly collected 1,720 votes, accounting for 49.73% of the total, while nearest competitor Kathryn Dodge had 1,516 votes, or 43.83% of the total. More than 800 absentee and questioned ballots remain to be counted, however, leaving Dodge hopeful about her chances.
Matherly received more votes than Dodge in the city's outer precincts. He had strong showings in the Aurora, Fairbanks No. 1, Fairbanks No. 2, Fairbanks No. 5, Fairbanks No. 9 and Fort Wainwright precincts and also led in Fairbanks No. 6 and Fairbanks No. 10.
By number of votes, Matherly had the strongest lead in Fairbanks No. 9, where he received 285 votes to Dodge's 207. This area is on the eastern side of the city and adjacent to Fort Wainwright.
By percentage, Matherly had the strongest lead in Fort Wainwright, where he received 19 of the 26 votes. Dodge received five votes, and Lakesha Jordan received two votes.
Dodge led by a small margin in the Fairbanks No. 3, Fairbanks No. 4 and Fairbanks No. 7 precincts. These precincts are located in the center of the city, where Dodge lives, and in South Fairbanks. Her strongest lead was in Fairbanks No. 4, where she received 98 votes to Matherly's 82. Dodge said she had intentionally knocked on doors and developed relationships in South Fairbanks, hoping to learn more about the issues pertinent to that part of the city.
Matherly and Dodge tied at 75 votes each in the Fairbanks No. 2 precinct.
As there are 838 votes either uncounted or questioned, Dodge is not ready to concede. "There's enough of a chance that we feel we should let every vote be counted," she said.
Dodge's campaign emphasized the importance of early voting.
Absentee and early ballots were up this year. There were 509 early and absentee votes this election season, compared to last year's 360.
Matherly has little concern about a loss from early votes. He pointed out that absentee ballots trended toward the same ratio as those collected on Election Day. While he's not ready to declare victory, with a 6-point lead, he said, "The odds look good."
Jordan, a first-time candidate, received 138 votes, or 3.99%. Frank Turney, a frequent and “conscience awareness” candidate, received 75 votes, or 2.17% of the vote. There were 10 write-in votes.
There are 21,740 registered voters in the 12 city precincts, only 16% of whom — 3,469 people — voted for mayor. While this number is lower than in previous years, it does not account for absentee or questioned ballots.
There were 838 total uncounted absentee and questioned ballots across the 12 city precincts. Of these, 329 are questioned ballots.
According to City Clerk Danyielle Snider, every year some of the questioned ballots are not counted toward city results, often because a person who lives outside the city mistakenly voted for city officials.
Last year, Snider said that of 2018's 329 questioned ballots, more than 100 were not counted toward city results for similar reasons. There were 329 questioned ballots in both 2018 and 2019.
The counting of absentee and questioned ballots will occur at 2 p.m. Tuesday. The process usually takes several hours, according to Snider. When it is complete, results will be updated on the city's website. Election results will not be official until they are certified by the Fairbanks City Council on Oct. 14, the same day elected officials are sworn in.
Contact staff writer Cheryl Upshaw at 459-7572 or find her on Twitter @FDNMcity.