Josh Keaton

Josh Keaton

Juneau school board member will not seek re-election

Josh Keaton, elected in 2015, says work-life balance doesn’t allow another term

School board member Josh Keaton will not run for re-election, he announced by email Thursday, making him the second of two incumbents to drop out of this year’s school board contest.

Speaking by phone, Keaton confirmed his decision and said it was a matter of work-life balance. As demands have increased at work, he needed to decide between spending time with his family or spending time on school board business.

“It really just boils down to balance of work, family — and the school board time required has become challenging,” he said.

Keaton intends to fulfill the rest of his term.

Three school board seats are on the Oct. 2 municipal election ballot: Keaton’s, the seat held by Andi Story, and the seat held by Emil Mackey. Story is running for the Alaska Legislature, and Mackey is seeking re-election.

The official candidate signup period doesn’t open until August, but two Juneauites have already signaled their intentions to run: biologist Elizabeth Siddon and programmer Paul Kelly.

Keaton, who works for the National Marine Fisheries Service in Juneau, used to work across the hall from Siddon, and he said he really likes her as a candidate.

“She definitely has my vote,” he said.

Keaton said he told fellow board members by email about his decision, something Mackey confirmed by phone. The message was a surprise, Mackey said. “As of two days ago, he told me he was still leaning to run, so this shocked me.”

“I think he’s one of our most active board members, and he always comes to the meetings prepared. He’s just a ball of energy, and we’re really going to miss that,” Mackey said.

Mackey added that he has thought deeply about his own decision to run for re-election. Though he will miss Keaton, Mackey said Juneau is fortunate with this year’s elections.

“I looked at the candidates, and I’m very impressed with their qualifications. It’s very nice to have an abundance of talent,” he said.

Board elections come at an auspicious time for the Juneau School District. This week, superintendent Mark Miller announced he is leaving for a job in California. Anyone elected this year will play a significant role in hiring his replacement, someone who will need to guide the school district as it deals with uncertain funding from the state of Alaska.

Keaton was elected to the school board of education in 2015 after moving to Alaska in 1996. He met his wife in Sitka, and they married after moving to Juneau. Together, they have two children: a son, Elijah, and a daughter, Dalnoi.

Keaton said he will stay involved in Juneau’s education system by attending school board meetings, testifying in front of the Legislature, and attending site council meetings. It wasn’t a lack of interest or willingness that persuaded him against another term, he said.

“I have that type of personality where if I can’t commit 100 percent, I don’t want to take the job,” he said.

• Contact reporter James Brooks at or 523-2258.