The votes are all in for Homer’s recall election of three liberal city council members. But the results are not yet clear. The politically divided town will remain in limbo until absentee votes are counted Friday.
As the ballots came in Tuesday evening, it quickly became clear the election is too close to call.
Just over a thousand voters went to the polls to decide the fate of Homer City Council members Donna Aderhold, Catriona Reynolds and David Lewis.
The council members found themselves embroiled in controversy earlier this spring, after sponsoring a failed resolution regarding inclusivity. Petitioners argue the council members intended to make Homer a sanctuary city, committing misconduct in office and economically damaging tourism.
The three elected officials enjoyed a small victory after Tuesday’s votes showed them slightly ahead, meaning they would keep their seats. Each council member is voted on individually and the razor thin margins vary from about 80 votes for Aderhold to 30 votes for Reynolds.
Council member Lewis, who 53 percent of regular voters favored, was happy that the votes are in.
“It feels good. It’s nice to hopefully have this whole thing over with and we can get back to “normal life,” whatever that’s going to be now,” Lewis said.
But, there are still about 740 absentee votes to count along with several electronic, mail and questioned ballots.
Lewis hopes absentee ballots will mirror the regular vote. Aderhold and Reynolds say they will wait and see. Reynolds feels vindicated by the results.
“I think that shows half the community, even if they didn’t agree what we were trying to do with the resolution, understood that was just part of the day to day life of being a city council member,” Reynolds explained.
If the preliminary numbers are anything to go by, the results show a community split almost down the middle on the issue. You could see that divide all over town on election day.
Supporters and opponents of the recall gather about one block away from each other on Pioneer Avenue. Red pro-recall signs sprouted up near a city park downtown, but one lone speck of blue stands out.
“We have healthy discussion on this corner,” Alex Koplin said. “We’re like Willie and the Poor Boys. Remember them?”
Koplin holds an anti-recall poster next to Coletta Walker, a recall supporter. As people drive by, some honk, wave or give thumbs up or down.
Walker: We’re getting more thumbs ups because they don’t know whether it’s him or us.
Koplin: "That’s true, because nobody quite knows because of the blue sign."
Walker: "And I’m just saying vote today."
Koplin: "We want people to vote, but also we have our priorities too, but yea."
The vote has become a proxy battle for disputes about national politics. Larry Zuccaro, is one of the sponsors of the recall petition. His sign reads, “You’re fired,” a nod to President Trump’s catch-phrase on the reality TV show ‘The Apprentice.’ Zuccaro is one of the larger financial backers of Heartbeat of Homer, the pro-recall political action committee.
He said he is very aware of the divisiveness fracturing the community and he said he’s looking forward to putting the issue behind him.
“I didn’t want to be in the newspaper, I don’t want to be on the radio, I don’t want my face all over the place,” Zuccaro said with frustration. “I’ve got the angry calls, I’ve got people at work that won’t talk to me anymore, but when that resolution hit my inbox, there was no choice.”
Chairman of Homer Citizens Against the Recall Ron Keffer and a handful of supporters gather down the street. Both Keffer and Zuccaro share some common ground when it comes to how the community will handle the election results. Each agrees it may take a long time for the anger to dissipate.
“We have to find a way to understand each other a little better because right now there isn’t even any understanding going on,” Keffer said.
Absentee votes will be counted and the vote certified Friday afternoon. Until then, those dug in on both sides will just have to wait.