Just like last year city voters remain almost equally split on a ballot measure that would allow Kodiak city employees to unionize.
The preliminary results from Tuesday’s elections show 421 city voters voted against Proposition 1, while 381 voted for it. About 75 absentee ballots and 52 question ballots remain to be counted.
The same proposition was on the city ballot last October and trailed by only 17 votes the night of the election. After absentee and challenge ballots were counted it ended up losing by the same margin.
Participation was similar to last year.
Kodiak city manager Aimée Kniaziowski came by the borough building Tuesday night to hear the results. During the campaign she frequently spoke against the measure, arguing that allowing city workers to unionize would be expensive for the city.
“I was certainly pleased by the preliminary results,” she said after the results came in. “The voters have had the issue before them two years in a row, and this year the preliminary margin was larger.”
A group of the ballot measure’s supporters also stopped by the borough building and looked surprised by the results.
“It is what it is,” said Alaska state trooper Rob Cox, president of Public Safety Employees of Alaska (PSEA), the union that represents the troopers and several Alaska police departments.
“You hope the absentee ballots swing it the other way, but you never know.”
PSEA’s executive director Jake Metcalfe was also surprised by the results. Metcalfe came to Kodiak to campaign with Kodiak’s rank-and-file police officers who had expressed universal interest in joining PSEA.
“It would be not a miracle to overcome those numbers, but it would be unusual,” Metcalfe said. “I’m surprised by it. I guess because that was not the response I got from going door-to-door, and that wasn’t the experience that police officers got.”
If Prop. 1 fails it cannot go on the ballot in 2011 because of a city law passed earlier this year preventing similar propositions from going on the ballot in consecutive years.
Action to allow city workers to unionize would have to come from the Kodiak City Council, which has opposed letting city workers unionize in the past.
If the measure fails Kniaziowski said she hopes to meet with employee groups to hear grievances and repair relationships strained by this year’s campaign.
“I think employees that supported this are going to be very disappointed, and I understand their disappointment,” she said. “They are all very good employees and they all do an excellent job of performing the services they provide. My job isn’t over by any means. Now I need to reach out and understand what their concerns are.”
In a less contested election, city voters voted in favor of Proposition 2 by 613 votes to 158 in a preliminary tally Tuesday. The proposition would amend the city’s charter to give the city council the power to move the filing date for city elections. The proposition was created to allow the city to move its election filing date to match the borough’s.
More complete results from Tuesday’s city election should be available Oct. 13 when city absentee and question ballots are counted. The Kodiak City Council is scheduled to certify election results Oct. 21.
Mirror writer Sam Friedman can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.