Last year none of the races for Assembly and school board were contested. This year all of them will be.
Ten people will compete for two areawide Assembly seats, there are two candidates each for two available district seats on the Assembly, and four people are seeking two available seats on the school board, according to the city’s list of certified candidates. The filing deadline for candidates in the Oct. 3 election was 4:30 p.m. Monday.
“Hear ye, hear ye, the candidate filing period is closed,” City Clerk Beth McEwen told Deputy Clerk Andi Hirsh in an otherwise empty office at City Hall at 4:31 p.m., after several candidates signed up throughout the day.
Among the incumbents eligible to run for reelection, only one — school board member Martin Stepetin Sr. — did not file by the deadline.
Plenty of contentious issues have arisen at both the Assembly and Juneau Board of Education during the past year, some of which are mentioned by candidates at campaign websites and in other statements made recently.
Among the top Assembly issues is a proposed new City Hall projected to cost more than $40 million, with voters last year rejecting a bond to fund $35 million of the cost. The Assembly recently put a $27 million bond question on this fall’s ballot and approved spending $50,000 to advocate for the measure. Rising housing and property taxes, along with an ongoing shortage of available housing, also remain hot issues.
The school board has grappled with budget issues including a much-debated proposed increase in the statewide per-student formula, as well as a $3.2 million deficit incurred by years of overspending and flat funding from the state. Also being debated widely statewide are proposals and legislation imposing restrictions on sex and gender references in school activities, and banning transgender girls from participating in girls’ high school sports.
The four seats opening on the Assembly are to fill positions currently held by members Maria Gladziszewski (areawide), Alicia Hughes-Skandijs (District 1) and Christine Woll (District 2), and recently resigned Carole Triem (areawide) whose seat is temporarily filled by previous Assembly member Loren Jones until the election.
Hughes-Skandijs and Woll are running for reelection since both are eligible for two additional three-year terms after their terms expire this October. However, Gladziszewski will term out of her position come October after serving three, three-year terms — the maximum allowed by the city.
The areawide seat means the Assembly member may live anywhere in the borough, while District 1 means the member must reside in either Douglas, Thane, the downtown area, Lemon Creek, or the Mendenhall Valley south of Egan Drive and east of the Mendenhall River (near the airport). District 2 includes the rest of the Mendenhall Valley, Auke Bay and out-the-road.
The two seats open on the school board are currently occupied by Stepetin and Brian Holst. Unlike the Assembly, there is no term limit for school board positions, with Holst filing for reelection on Friday.
Certified candidates for all races have until Friday to withdraw. Write-in candidates, who will not appear on the ballot, must file by Sept. 26 to be eligible.
The deadline for Juneau residents to register to vote for the municipal election is Sept. 3, with by-mail voting beginning in mid-September.
The following are the declared candidates, in the order of their appearance on the city’s registration website. Brief profiles based on previous Empire coverage and/or other available information are included, with full candidate profiles and their positions on issues to be featured as part of the Empire’s future coverage of the election.
Assembly areawide (two seats available)
The candidate who receives the most votes during the areawide position election will take Gladziszewski’s seat for a full three-year term, and the candidate with the second-most votes will take Triem’s seat for two years as she resigned before finishing her full term.
— Paul Kelly, an analyst/programmer for the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, whose campaign website makes homelessness the top issue. His homepage also highlights diversifying the tourism industry to help revive the economy, increasing public school spending and providing more services for Juneau’s growing elder population.
— Ivan Nance, a former U.S. Coast Guard officer who has advocated for veterans’ care causes such as treatment of Multiple Sclerosis, which he is diagnosed with, and recently served on the city’s Systemic Racism Review Committee.
— Nathaniel “Nano” Brooks, a plumber who is also the owner and co-founder of Hi-Fi Senpai, which sells vintage audio equipment and old forms of physical media. In a Facebook post announcing his candidacy, Brooks wrote “the opportunities within CBJ for economic growth, sustainability, renewable energy, and setting a leading example for surrounding municipalities, is prevalent and abundant. It’s going to take individuals that are active, ambitious, but most importantly, attentive, to seize these opportunities to the fullest.”
— JoAnn Wallace, a real estate agent who has been a Juneau resident since 1982. In a June 29 radio interview, she said Juneau is experiencing a severe shortage of available housing because “people aren’t selling unless they absolutely have to” due to high interest rates, and among the consequences of that is “I’ve never seen so many people looking for a rental.”
— Ella Adkison, who was born and raised in Juneau, and is a staff member for state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, a Juneau Democrat. A bio of her by Kiehl states she lived for “a few chilly years in Fairbanks to add perspective” and earned a degree in international affairs at an out-of-state college, and during the past session was “on point for me on the Education Committee.”
— Michele Stuart Morgan, a Douglas resident who was honored by then-First Lady Donna Walker in 2016 for founding the grassroots group “Juneau – Stop Heroin, Start Talking.” In comments that could be applicable today to the opioid epidemic in Alaska, Morgan said at the time “We want to save the next generation. We all know this heroin epidemic is not discriminatory and not reserved for those who are bad or on the fringe of society. It’s affecting our families.”
— Emily Mesch, president of Southeast Alaska LGBTQ+ Alliance. In an interview by the Empire last month, she said after moving to Juneau in 2019 it was important to get involved and find like-minded people in the LGBTQ+ community able to provide support. The nonprofit group she heads has organized events and advocated for causes since its establishment in 1986, with Mesch saying one of her primary goals is a stronger connection with other LGBTQ+ alliances and communities across Southeast Alaska.
— Dorene Lorenz, a former television talk show host, broadcast journalist and news director at ABC/FOX Alaska, according to her campaign website. In a statement at the site, she cites foremost how friends and neighbors say “this year’s steep increase in property taxes is hindering their ability to thrive, and for some survive, in our community.” She also criticized the current Assembly for approving $10 million toward a new City Hall after voters rejected a bond measure for the project last year.
– Laura Martinson McDonnell, a Douglas resident and owner of the Juneau souvenir shop Caribou Crossings. She was named last year to the “Alaska’s Top 40 Under 40” by the Alaska Journal of Commerce and in December of 2021 organized a food drive devoted to collecting favorite foods of children. kid favorites. Among her public policy activities are serving on the steering committee of the Alaska Alliance For Cruise Travel and being among a group of more than 50 Alaska tourism industry officials who endorsed the reelection of U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan.
— Jeff Jones, a Juneau resident since 1992 who is a retired plumber and current account executive for LONG Building Technologies. He told the Empire he is running because of concerns about the city’s spending and being a candidate gives him “the right to be involved” in the debate. Among his concerns are the city’s purchase of a gondola at Eaglecrest Ski Area and “the state of Bartlett (Regional) Hospital…we need to get that taken care of. It needs to be put in the forefront.”
Assembly District 1 (one seat available)
— Alicia Hughes-Skandijs, the incumbent, has lived in Juneau since 2004 and graduated from The University of Alaska Southeast. She was appointed to the District 1 seat in early 2019 when Kiehl was elected to the state Senate and she was elected to fulfill the rest of his term later that year. She was then elected to a full term in 2020. She is chair of the Assembly’s land, resources and economic development committee; represents Juneau on the National Association of Counties housing task force; and is a liaison for Eaglecrest Ski Area and the Juneau Chamber of Commerce.
— Joe Geldhof, a Juneau attorney who has been an outspoken critic of recent actions by the Assembly and other city leaders. In an Empire column published June 19, he wrote “our Assembly is ‘majority millennial,’ while the fastest growing segment of our population is seniors. How is that ‘diverse?’” He also asserted most are employed, or were employed, by government or organizations dependent on government funding. His policy criticisms include property tax assessments, a budget he calls excessive and the continuing effort to build a new City Hall.
Assembly District 2 (one seat available)
— Christine Woll, the incumbent, is a New England native who moved to Juneau in 2012 and now works as a leadership transition guide for the Foraker Group. She was a member of the Juneau Commission on Sustainability and chaired the Blueprint Downtown steering committee before being elected to the Assembly in 2020. She is the chair of the Assembly’s finance committee and the city manager recruitment committee.
— David L. Morris. No verifiable information about him was available and attempts to contact him after the filing deadline Monday were unsuccessful.
Board of Education (two seats available)
— Brian Holst, an incumbent who was first elected to the school board in 2014 and is the current executive director of the Juneau Economic Development Council. His dual roles mean he has been involved in numerous citywide issues such as the housing shortage crisis and efforts to revive the tourism industry. His official school district bio states “he knows that strong economies require great schools. He believes every student has potential and we must support our families and teachers in engaging students where they are and helping them develop their talents. He recognizes that we are fortunate in Juneau to have a community that supports education strongly.”
— Paige Sipniewski, a Juneau mother of four who expressed support for a “parental rights” bill proposed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy during the legislative session that would restrict references to sex and gender in schools, as well as require parents to opt-in for their children to take sex education classes. “I have already taken two of my kids out (of public school) and placed them in private. I have one more in public that I’ve considered taking out as well,” she wrote in testimony about the bill submitted April 12, stating such withdrawals by parents locally and statewide will be widespread without the bill.
— Britteny Cioni-Haywood, who is currently in a trio of roles as chair of the Academic Policy Committee for the Juneau Community Charter School board, an adjunct professor of economics at The University of Alaska Southeast and as administrative operations manager for the Alaska Division of Commercial Fisheries. “I’m an educator and I think there’s real challenges with the budget, and I would like to provide the experience that I have from working at the state and other aspects of my life to helping the school district,” she told the Empire.
— David Noon, a history professor at UAS since 2002, his official bio states he “is particularly interested in the period between the Civil War and World War I; the history of race and social science; and contemporary debates about empire in American history.” He is also listed as a producer for Salt and Soil Marketplace, and at that website he states “I spend much of my free time in the summer gathering berries, spruce tips, dandelions, and fireweed…although I am a university history professor during the school year, summers are for loading up the kitchen with mason jars, giant pots, mounds of pectin, and enormous bags of sugar.”
• Contact Mark Sabbatini at email@example.com or (907) 957-2306.