Stedman, Himschoot Look at What's Next


Sentinel Staff Writer

With the election behind them, Sitka’s candidates for state Senate and House are preparing for what follows.

“I’ve been through this so many times, so I wouldn’t use the word exciting,” said Sen. Bert Stedman, who is a sizable margin ahead of challenger Mike Sheldon for the Senate District A seat. “The real politics comes after the election – it’s much more stressful than the election.” 

Rebecca Himschoot, the nonpartisan candidate from Sitka, has a solid lead over Kenny Skaflestad, for House District 2, the seat formerly held by Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins.

The Division of Elections said next up in the election process is the seven-day count on Tuesday, the 10-day count on Friday and the 15-day count on Nov. 23, which will include tabulating ranked-choice votes.

One upcoming deadline is November 18, the date by which the state must have received ballots mailed from within the U.S. and U.S. territories. The state Review Board will start going over election materials – such as precinct registers, ballots, scanner printouts –  on Nov. 21.

Stedman, with close to 70 percent of the votes in Senate District A at this point, is already meeting with fellow legislators to get the Senate organized. No decisions have been made since a few races are too close to call, he said.

“A couple more races are fairly close,” he said.

If trends are similar to elections of the past few years, Stedman is expecting to see candidates “more in the center of the political spectrum to have the wind to their backs” as the final votes are counted.

Stedman, the longest serving co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said he is keeping his eye on three races in particular. Two are in Anchorage, Matt Claman (Democrat) against Republican Mia Costello, and Cathy Giessel against fellow Republican Roger Holland, the incumbent. The third is in Fairbanks, incumbent Democrat Scott Kawasaki against Republican Jim Matherly.

Stedman flew to Anchorage on Election Day and was steadily in meetings until returning to Sitka Friday. From his read on the current situation, he believes the organization of the Senate will be similar to years past.

“It’s highly likely we’ll have the same sort of coalition in the Senate,” he said. He added that the coalitions are more varied than Republican and Democrat, since he works on legislation with fellow coastal senators, or fellow lawmakers from rural areas.

After 19 years in the Senate, Stedman said his agenda is already filling up with plenty to do once the session opens in January. That includes FEMA flood insurance, and work on the budget, which he expects will be hit hard by inflationary pressures.

“I think it will be difficult if not impossible to hold the operating side flat,” he said. 

That will affect every aspect of the budget.

Stedman said he would have more updates about the Senate organization once the final absentees are counted.

In the contest for the House seat representing Sitka, Rebecca Himschoot said she is feeling “incredibly optimistic” about the final results and “feeling a lot of gratitude.”

“I’m grateful to voters and to my team, so many people helped,” she said. “So many small parts that made a bigger campaign.” She also added her thanks to the election workers.

Commenting on the ranked choice system, she said she can see it may take time for Alaskans to get used to.

“I’m a teacher, and I see this happen all the time in classrooms: any time you start something new you start out somewhat timid, you’ve got to get used to it and feel like you master it before it becomes comfortable,” Himschoot said.

As for the way the way the state’s first ranked-choice general election was held, “It sounds like everything happened the way it was anticipated it would happen,” Himschoot said. “Workers performed beautifully and I think we can be proud of our election in Alaska and how the polls worked.”

As to how the House will be organized, Himschoot said it’s too early to say.

“There’s a lot of commitment to working together, and I’ve had outreach from a lot of different legislators, and opportunities to talk with incoming legislators,” she said. “But the bottom line is we just don’t know, we have to wait until November 23rd to see exactly who is elected, and then a lot of decisions will happen after that.”

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At a Glance

(updated 5-30-2023)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 12:15 pm Tuesday, May 30.

New cases as of Tuesday: 165

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 298,078

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,468

Case Rate per 100,000 – 22.64

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "Low.'' Case statistics are as of Tuesday.

Case Rate/100,000 – 58.70

Cases in last 7 days – 5

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,424

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






June 2003

Sitka Community Hospital board of directors has asked SEARHC to stop providing most health care services to non-beneficiary patients. “During the collaborative process SEARHC has said they’re happy to do anything they can do to help,” said SCH Administrator Bill Patten. “This is one of the things they can do – not provide services to non-beneficiaries.”



June 1973

What began 50 years ago in a Methodist parsonage in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will be celebrated Sunday in Sitka. Les and Caroline Yaw’s four children invite the couple’s many, many friends to attend a golden wedding anniversary reception at the Centennial Building.