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By ZACHARY HALASCHAK
Daily News Staff Writer
As temperatures hovered around 40 degrees an hour after sunset, supporters of a number of candidates were seen bundled up and waving signs in the hours before polls closed in Ketchikan on Tuesday.
About a dozen or so folks were gathered along the intersection of Tongass Avenue and Jefferson Street around 5 p.m., even though there was little light out.
Some of the canvassers decked out their signs in flashing lights in order to attract attention, while car horns belted out support.
Both candidates for the District 36 House election were out among their supporters. Rep. Dan Ortiz, I-Ketchikan and Republican challenger Trevor Shaw both mingled with supporters throughout the day.
Despite the cold, the dark, and the sore arms, supporters told the Daily News on Tuesday evening that they were proud to be out engaging in the political process.
One of those on the corner, Dick Coose, said that this was not his first rodeo. He has waved signs for candidates in elections past and said it was an important part of the electoral process.
Coose said he had been out canvassing for Shaw, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, GOP gubernatorial candidate Mike Dunleavy and Stand for Alaska. Coose emphasized that despite the political differences between the dozen or so folks on the corner, they all got along and were civil.
“It’s a nice place to be doing it because it’s not like crazy where other people don’t get along with each other,” Coose explained. “There’s been conversations between different supporters — Ketchikan is a good place to be.”
Liz Harpold, an Ortiz supporter and aide with his office, said that she had been out waving signs since early Tuesday morning and, despite the cold, has been trying to stay energetic.
“I’ve been here since before seven this morning – I’ve taken a couple little breaks, but basically just kind of bouncing around, moving; keeps the blood flowing,” she said.
Harpold said that she had loved seeing voters with their stickers out and about while she was waving signs on Tuesday.
“My favorite thing, in addition to people honking, is seeing (all) the people with ‘I voted’ stickers,” she said.
Carol Cairnes, who was canvassing for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Begich, House candidate Alyse Galvin and Stand for Salmon, said that she was out waving signs for the first time because she felt as though this election was particularly important for the state. She said she has never invested as much time into an election as this one.
“We need change, we need someone new, and someone who is us. This guy, Mark Begich — he’s an Alaskan,” Cairnes said. “… He, I think, will do a better job of representing us.”
Amy Thompson, a Republican supporter, said that she was out there because she believed in what the candidates she supported stood for. Thompson, an experienced sign waver, also noted that there appeared to be more civility this time around than in years past.
“I didn’t get any obscene gestures this year like I usually do, which was really pleasant,” Thompson said. “This time I had a few thumbs down, but that was it; I’m good with that, at least they were a little bit more polite.”
And that civility seemed to continue to the very end, as those out waving signs said there was a mutual agreement on both sides of the aisle — or street — to end the canvassing by 5:30 p.m., with bipartisan hopes of heading somewhere warmer.