• Accu-view ballot counting questioned in 11-vote span between candidates
by Naomi Klouda
Eleven votes separated Councilman Bryan Zak and candidate Corbin Arno at the end of Friday’s Canvass Board count of outstanding ballots. That’s considered so close that another candidate, Justin Arnold, requested a recount.
Arnold filed paperwork with the Homer Clerk’s Office making the request. He, Arno and Zak sat in on the recount Tuesday.
After everything was counted again, Bryan Zak finished with one less vote or 53 percent of the vote, 546 to Arno’s 536 or 51 percent of 1,232 ballots cast. Scrugg’s Auto Repair owner Gus Van Dyke raked in the most votes, 651 or 63 percent of the vote. Justin Arnold, commercial fisherman and builder, finished with 292 votes, or 28 percent.
Van Dyke said the race between the second and third place winners was close, he can see why they would want to verify the count.
“But I’m pretty sure the outcome will be similar,” he said.
Monday, he was working in his shop and said he was pleased with the race results.
The recount also revealed one less “no” vote for the plastic bag repeal. This did not change the repeal.
“To a degree, there are a lot of people in this town who feel the same way I do. I am pleased so much of the town believes in me,” Van Dyke said.
Previous to the count of outstanding ballots, 168 absentee, four special needs and 16 questioned, Arno was in the lead over Zak by seven points.
Zak was happy at the news of his lead on Friday.
“There’s the potential in any election to be that close and there for the past few days, it was too close to call,” Zak said. “I tried to stay focused and confident in what I was communicating and where I stood. The values I tried to clearly communicate, and I know the people who would vote for me did so because of where I stood.”
Arnold argues that the “accu-vote ballot tabulation units used to tally the vote were no accurate.”
In his application for a recount, Arnold wrote, “Or any other small mistake could have changed the outcome in an election that just came down to 11 votes.” Arnold asked Arno to attend the recount as a witness.
Arnold may have been disappointed by his defeat, but he had a big win to celebrate in the petition initiative that put his question on the ballot: Should Homer repeal the plastic grocery bag ban?
That brought forth 661 ‘yes’ votes. The ‘no’ votes came out to 519, a good margin of 140 votes.
City Manager Walt Wrede said the plastic bag ordinance will be officially repealed when the Homer City Council certifies the election results.
“That is scheduled to take place at the regular meeting on Oct.14. Once the election is certified, the Clerk will remove the appropriate sections from the City Code,” he said.
The lively campaign season brought out a number of discussions, including asking how the City of Homer can loosen restrictions that make the town expensive for businesses. Zak said this made him think about how can the council can be more business friendly.
“We can do a better job of communicating on the council level, and it’s important for the commissions to come and report to the council,” Zak said, referring to a zone decision relating to Dennis Novak’s property. “What to do when an owner passes away – we should give more leniency when a property is going through probate.”
Zak has served five years on the city council and previously was on the Planning Advisory Commission two and half years. With that experience, he feels the need to communicate with the public on zoning matters, which can be complex. There are justifiable reasons why certain laws are on the books related to drainage, landscaping and parking, Zak said. He doesn’t believe requiring paved parking in the Gateway District, just up from the beach, is a god idea for the environment, however.
Homer Voices for Business backed Arno and Van Dyke, a point not missed on Zak. One of his top priorities will be to identify six key issues to work on.
“What are these areas? I am looking forward to hearing from Voice for Business to see what can we do to help,” he said.
Homer Voice for Business Member Mike Dye said he was really pleased by the energy and enthusiasm the candidates showed in the campaign season.
“The bottom line is that I would like to see all four of them stay involved, whether it’s on the council or on a commission. It was a very exciting election and we definitely got different perspectives,” Dye said. “It was clear all the candidates had a lot of energy to try to affect change and be involved. There was a lot of similarities in their underlying approach to being involved.”
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