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Challenger for Nome Mayor Tops October Ballot

Election day at Nome's polling place, Old St. Joe's. Photo: David Dodman, KNOM file.

Candidates have filed for Nome’s Oct. 6 election, and city residents will cast ballots in the mayor’s race, as well as for the city council, school board, and the utility board.

Voters in Nome, Elim, Savoonga, St. Michael, and Teller will also vote for their community’s representative on the Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation board.

At the top of the list in Nome is the mayor’s race. Incumbent Denise Michels has held the job since 2003. She’s filed for re-election for another two-year term. Michels will compete for votes with Richard Beneville, recently retired from Nome’s community schools program and longtime operator of a local tour company.

Two city council members running for another term will both face challengers in their reelection bid. Currently in Seat C is Randy Pomeranz, who’s held the seat for several years. Also vying for Seat C is Lew Tobin, a member of Nome Rotary and recently retired as Kawerak’s Vocational Training Specialist.

Facing two challengers for city council Seat D is longtime council member Stan Andersen. He’s running against political newcomer Sarah Swartz. A former nurse with Norton Sound Regional Hospital, Swartz has nearly a decade in Nome and now works at the Animal House kennel. Also filing for Andersen’s Seat D is lifelong Nome resident, and frequent attendee of city council meetings, Emory “Chuck” Wheeler.

Both city council seats are for three-year terms.

School board president (and former KNOM data manager) Betsy Brennan will not seek re-election for Seat C on the school board. That leaves the seat up for the two filed candidates: 40-year Nome resident and former Northwest Campus Director Nancy Mendenhall, and John Tidwell, a father of eight and a Nome resident for more than two years.

Running unopposed for school board Seat D is Keith Conger, a retired Nome Elementary science teacher and head of the Western-Interior Ski Biathlon Association. Seat D is currently held by Paula Davis, who also opted not to run again.

Both school board seats are also three-year terms.

Running unopposed for re-election to the utility board are two incumbents: Pat Knodel for the two-year Seat A, and David Barron for the three-year Seat C.

The Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation has board members from 15 member communities, and alongside the local municipal elections in October, five of those communities will vote for their community’s board representative.

Three candidates are vying for the board seat in St. Michael: current board member Milton Cheemuk will face off against Frankie Myomick and Charlie Fitka.

For Elim’s board seat, Lewis Nakarak is running against incumbent—and current board “sergeant at arms”—Oscar Takak Sr.

Savoonga’s Truman Kava hopes to keep his seat against challengers Preston Rookuk and Danny Pungowiyi.

Joe Garnie currently holds the board seat for Teller and is running unopposed for re-election.

Current Nome rep and vice chair of board’s executive committee, Don Stiles, is running to keep his seat. Nome’s Patrick Johanson has also filed for Nome’s seat at the NSEDC board.

The local elections are less than three weeks away; voters go to the polls on Tuesday, Oct. 6.


  1. Jake on September 17, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    Vote!! If you don’t use your right to vote, you should lose your right to complain. Everyone has a say and everyone has a chance to be heard by showing up at ballots and supporting who you think best represents your interests.

  2. […] NSEDC holds its board elections concurrently with local voting, and charges of “deception and fraud” presented to the council are rooted in claims the City of Nome failed to share with voters NSEDC’s financial information, specifically the earnings from the CDQ’s for-profit subsidiaries like Siu Alaska. The letters go on to allege the city also incorrectly advertised NSEDC’s election and related filing deadlines. Candidates were were finalized last week. […]