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Early results are in for Dillingham and Bristol Bay Borough; two races are too close to call

Izzy Ross/KDLG

Absentee votes could be enough to make a difference in races for Dillingham City Council and the Bristol Bay Borough School Board. 

Early results are in for local elections in Dillingham and the Bristol Bay Borough. 


In Dillingham, 302 voters cast ballots. However, more than 50 people cast absentee ballots in-person and by-mail which still need to be counted. That means one race is still too close to call. 

Aksel Buholm is ahead of Kaleb Westfall by just 15 votes in the race for City Council seat C. Buholm has 154 votes and Westfall has 139 votes. There were 4 votes for a write-in candidate.

City Clerk Lori Goodell said the absentee votes could be enough to make a difference for Aksel and Westfall, but for the others, while the numbers will change, the outcome won't.

Buholm was elected to the council in 2017. He resigned in December due to work-related travel, and Westfall was then appointed to the seat. However, COVID-19 restrictions mean that council members now meet telephonically, which makes remote participation accessible, and Buholm decided to run for his former seat this fall. 

Incumbent Curt Armstrong ran unopposed for seat D. He had 274 votes, while 8 people voted for a write-in candidate.

Karl Clark won school board seat B by a landslide. Clark has 231 votes, while Westfall, who was also running for the school board, has just 70. There was 1 vote for a write-in candidate.

Jenny Bennis ran unopposed for seat C. She has 270 votes, and there were 7 votes for a write-in candidate.

The city's canvass committee meets Thursday at 12:15 p.m. to count all eligible absentee and question ballots. The Dillingham City Council will certify election results at a special meeting October 15.

Bristol Bay Borough

In the Bristol Bay Borough, 456 ballots have been counted so far — 237 in Naknek, 190 in King Salmon, and 29 in South Naknek.

The borough still needs to count 37 absentee and 16 question ballots. Those votes could change the results for school board, but they won't change the unofficial winners for the assembly and mayoral seats. 

In the mayoral race, David Lax won by 141 votes against Randolph Zimin. Lax has 207 votes and Zimin has just 66.

Assembly seat incumbent Russell Phelps won against challenger by Kendra Gottschalk by more than 100 votes. Phelps has 193 votes while Gottschalk has 83.

In the borough’s three-way race for two open seats on the school board, incumbent Rebecca Hamon and challenger Floyd Wilson are ahead of incumbent Sarah Mitchell by less than 30 votes each. Hamon had a total of 162 votes, Wilson had 160, and Mitchell had 134. The two candidates with the most votes will be elected to the board.

That margin could close if there is a big push of support for Mitchell in the 53 absentee and questioned ballots yet to be tallied. 

The Borough Assembly will certify the election results on Monday. 

Lake and Peninsula Borough

The Lake and Peninsula Borough’s elections are by-mail, so those results won't be announced until November. 

Contact the author at isabelle@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.

Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.