What a day! I started out this morning stopping by City Hall to see how things were going (there were 20 people in line!) and taping an announcement for local radio about getting out to vote. Later, my friend Tammy and I took her life-sized Obama and stood across the street from City Hall waving to people driving by and getting lots of waves and thumbs-up in return. It was cold and windy and we were giddy from the excitement of it all.
We had three poll watchers taking turns going to City Hall to get the voter count at specific intervals of time and calling them in to the Anchorage Democratic party office. All day long we were having a record turnout on our little island. Rich and I went to a watch party and were amazed that the race was called for Obama before our polls in Alaska even closed! That's okay; we are just thrilled with the outcome!
Back to City Hall before 8 PM to get the final vote count and a printout of the results so I could report in. Four or five people were still there to vote right before 8. Results from Unalaska:
826 voters today, plus 63 absentee ballots, a record turnout!
McCain 403, Obama 391 Oh my gosh, I was so sure we would go for Obama! That was my only disappointment after all of our hard work, but it was awfully close and I guess it does not really matter in the grand scheme of things. We also had 31 third party and write in votes which affected the outcome.
Mark Begich did beat Uncle Ted Stevens by a big margin here locally, 460 to 296, which was somewhat surprising. Ethan Berkowitz squeaked by Don Young, 399 to 354. And Bryce Edgmon, our state rep, led his challenger Ron Bowers 448 to 338. Unalaska is in District 37 which includes Dillingham and some other communities so our votes will be combined with theirs in the end.
We're still watching Alaska returns and don't know the final outcome for the state. It's still early here....
I thought John McCain gave a very gracious concession speech. Rich and I were discussing that he might have done better overall if he had displayed more of this sort of demeanor throughout the race instead of allowing the Rove folks to influence his style of campaigning. I couldn't help but feel bad for him. We were still at City Hall when Barack gave his speech and I am hoping it will be replayed sometime before we have to head off to bed tonight.
As a little girl in Georgia, where my dad was stationed in the Air Force, I walked to the drugstore off base where the signs on the water fountain and the restroom said "whites only." Racial segregation and the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement were a part of my generation's experience, along with the women's movement and the mobilization to end the war in Vietnam. I know that those times helped to shape my values, my belief system, and my decision to go into social work as a career, to believe that each of us can make a difference in the world, can change society for the better and can find a way to lift all of us up, not just the powerful, the wealthy or the well connected. It will not be easy for this country to find its equilibrium again and to reach for its higher collective self and higher purpose, but I feel hope tonight that we can reach that day.