By Mindy Ragan Wood
In Yukon’s political climate, neither candidate is taking their campaign for city council for granted.
This election cycle drew six candidates including the incumbent Earlene Smaistrla and strung along an opponent for the runoff, Jeff Wootton. Voters will decide the winner during the election Tuesday, April 2.
Smaistrla has spent more than 40 years in the banking industry and Wootton is a Yukon Middle School geography teacher.
The incumbent is taking these last campaign days to increase her momentum.
“We don’t want to go overboard and just quit,” she said. “We’re going to have a big weekend. I have family coming and friends who are going to walk with us and try to cover the whole Yukon area. Even one of my piano students and her mother are going to go with us.”
Wootton brimmed with confidence Thursday.
“Coming into the election on Tuesday, we are working really hard and feeling really good,” he said. “We definitely feel like we’ve outworked our opponent by a long shot and the people have appreciated that. I and several volunteers have knocked on thousands of doors in Yukon throughout the cycle, and we’ve had real conversations with the citizens of Yukon.”
The runoff may show the growing divide in Yukon between old and young in the polarized support of two candidates whose ages represent those interests.
“There’s a lot of nice young people who think they know what to do and just jump into something and have never had any action (experience) with anything like that,” Smaistrla said. “But this is red, white, and blue and that’s what we do. This is America so that’s what we’re doing. Hopefully it will turn out alright.”
Smaistlra said she did not know why the election drew so many candidates and spurred a runoff, but acknowledged she is seeking another term in office because her “city” asked her to do so.
“I was very honored,” she said.
The issues Smaistrla has identified is to improve compensation for city employees, continue to problem solve infrastructure needs and improve public safety with resources and equipment for police and fire.
A community improvement plan funded by a city-wide sales tax is on her to-do list in addition to a flat rate system for utility bills, a new senior center, and a push to solve the water resource issue.
Wootton shares her concerns for water and police and fire, but also points to spending money on growing business within city limits to boost revenue for quality of life issues.
Overall the tone of his message has been tuned to the promise that he will be the voice of the people.
“We’ve reassured them of several things that would be different if I’m elected,” Wootton said. “If they have an issue, I will work to resolve it. If they an idea, I want to hear it and see how it might benefit the city as a whole. I want everyone to feel like they have a voice in this town and its future.”