Low Ward 1 voter turnout irks incumbent

Some 323 votes cast in recent Yukon City Council election

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Rick Cacini

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

A week after losing at the ballot box, a Yukon City Council member voiced disappointment publicly about the low voter turnout.

Rick Cacini’s service as the council’s Ward 1 representative will end this spring after he was defeated in the Tuesday, Feb. 8th election that saw 323 votes cast.

“I was somewhat shocked regarding the 10% turnout,” said Cacini, who has been in office since May 2018. “As a combat veteran, we the veterans who have served in our country have provided all of us those freedoms that we enjoy.

“We all have the freedom to vote. And we live in a country governed by the people, for the people.”

Rodney Zimmerman

Rodney Zimmerman, a Yukon native who teaches and coaches in Yukon Public Schools, defeated the incumbent by a 197-126 vote margin.

A 1996 Yukon High School graduate, Zimmerman will take office in May to begin the next four-year term as Ward 1 council member.

Cacini – who now serves as vice mayor – congratulated Zimmerman for winning the recent election and “wanting to be a councilman.” While thanking all his supporters, Cacini implored Yukon residents to vote in elections.

“My hope for any future elections is for all of us to get out and vote and get involved with the community,” he said during the Feb. 15th city council meeting. “Know what is going on in our city.

“If we are all working together, we can make Yukon not better – but the best.”

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61 FEWER VOTES THE LAST TIME

Voter turnout in Yukon City Council ward elections has traditionally been light.

In fact, only 262 voters came out the last time there was a Ward 1 race – eight years ago.

The last contested Ward 1 council election was March 4, 2014, when challenger Richard Russell beat incumbent Nick Grba by a 171-91 vote margin.

Cacini ran unopposed in 2018, so no Ward 1 election was needed. Founder and curator of the Yukon Veterans Museum, Cacini retired as lieutenant colonel after 40 years in the U.S. Army and 24 years in the U.S. Air Force.

Some 344 voters cast their ballots for the last contested Yukon City Council election in February 2020. Aric Gilliland beat Ken Wilkins, 248-96, to win the Ward 4 seat.

When Zimmerman is sworn into the Ward 1 office, he will join Jeff Wootton (At-large) Shelli Selby (Ward 2), Donna Yanda (Ward 3), and Gilliland (Ward 4).

The city council will elect a mayor and vice mayor for the next 12 months at its May 3rd meeting.

Selby has been Yukon’s mayor and Cacini has been vice mayor since May 2020.