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Evensen leads in council race, plastic bag ban passes according to unofficial election results

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO

Updated: 5:59 pm 10/02/2019 

The city of Homer announced the unofficial results Tuesday night from its municipal election. There are two contested seats on Homer city council. Political newcomer Joey Evensen will be elected to one of them.

Evensen won the most votes out of any candidate. He came away with 726 votes, about 33% of the total. He says he was at a post-election-night gathering at a local restaurant when he heard the news:

“There was a lot of whooping and hollering and as every five minutes sort of past afterwards, folks kept talking about how exciting this was,” he said. "And then 10 minutes later, how exciting this is.”  

He looks forward to helping out his city.

“That involves a lot of listening and voicing their concerns and acting responsibly and in smart ways,” he said.

Incumbent Shelly Erickson is in the lead for the second city council seat. But just by a little. She came in with 538 votes or roughly 25 percent of the total vote. She says she’s just waiting for official results.

“To see where it goes and then which direction my life will take, whether it will be in the same pattern or whether I’ll have more personal time,” she said.

Political newcomer Storm Hansen-Cavasos came in just behind Shelly Erickson with about 23 percent of the vote. Depending on the results of the uncounted ballots, Hansen-Cavasos could win the second seat. 

The city said there will be no run-off election and whoever has the most votes will win the seat. Hansen-Cavasos was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Council member Tom Stroozas finished last with 18 % of the vote. He says he’s looking forward to retirement.

“Twelve years ago, I moved to Homer with the idea of retiring,” he said. "Along the way, my path took me to seven years of political service to the community, four years on planning and zoning and three years on the council and now my path has returned to retirement.”  

The city’s election canvass board will meet on Friday to tally up the final vote. There are roughly three hundred ballots that still need to be counted.

The city’s turnout was around 28 percent, a few percentage points up from last year’s local municipal election.

Plastic Bag Passes

City residents also voted overwhelmingly to prohibit thin plastic bags, according to unofficial election results. 

The ban will prohibit retailers from providing plastic bags thinner than 2.5 mils, with some exceptions such as plastic bags used inside stores to carry produce or meat. Homer City Council member Caroline Venuti sponsored a vote on the bag ban last year.

“The winners are the future: the kids, animals," she said. “Those are the winners. There's so much research out there that shows what happens when this plastic breaks down and animals digest it and I think that to repute it is just not in the books anymore.”

The city had a similar ordinance in place roughly six years ago. But it was enforced for less than a year before it was it overturned with a citizen’s ballot initiative.

Homer resident Charles Anderson voted to abolish the ban back in 2013 and again in this year’s election. He was frustrated that the issue was up for debate again.

“I wholeheartedly support anybody that wants to use reusable bags or choose whatever they want to help the environment,” he said. “But just because something is a good idea doesn't make a good law. And when you use the force of government and the people have already spoken, I have a problem with that.”

However many residents, such as Lynne Burt, were fed up with the amount of plastic bags they saw littered outside.  

“It's awful, he said. “I mean I live on the beach and so just to see all that and the whole way it breaks down. It's just frightening.”

The ban will take effect on the first day of January.  


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Renee joined KBBI in 2017 as a general assignment reporter and host. Her work has appeared on such shows as Weekend Edition Saturday, The World, Marketplace and Studio 360. Renee previously interned as a reporter for KPCC in Los Angeles and as a producer for Stateside at Michigan Radio. Her work has earned her numerous press club awards. She holds an M.S. in journalism from the University of Southern California and a B.A. in women's studies from the University of Michigan.