Karen Crane

Karen Crane

Assemblywoman throws hat in mayoral race

The seven-day candidate filing period for the upcoming special municipal election is now more than halfway over, and as of Wednesday evening there are two people competing for the mayoral seat.

On Wednesday afternoon, Assembly member Karen Crane resigned her District 2 seat and filed for candidacy, joining Ken Koelsch who filed on Friday. Both candidates are well known in the community and are touting their experience in city government.

Koelsch, a former teacher and retired port director for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, served two terms on the Assembly from 1997–2003. During his final two years on the Assembly, he acted as deputy mayor.

“I have a fairly good idea how the Assembly works,” he said. “There won’t be too much of a learning curve.”

Crane has two Assembly terms under her belt — well, almost. She just entered the final year of her second term, which was set to expire in October. Crane served as the Assembly Finance Committee Chair for four years.

“I know the budget,” she said. “I know the issues the city and the state are facing, and I think I’m in a good position to lead the Assembly.”

Koelsch said that he was inspired to run for mayor by the recent deaths of three prominent Juneau citizens, including late mayor Greg Fisk. Their commitment to community, he said, made him decide to make a similar commitment “rather than lounging around.”

The decision to run for mayor didn’t come easy for Crane. This is at least partially because campaigning meant resigning her current Assembly seat.

“Whether I win or I lose, I cannot retake my seat,” she said.

Her resignation means that the Assembly once again needs to fill a vacancy. This only days after it appointed Barbara Sheinberg to the open District 1 seat left vacant when Mary Becker assumed the Mayor’s seat in November.

The Assembly will have to appoint a new Assembly member using the same process it just went through. This time, however, the open seat is from D2, which encompasses residents in the Mendenhall Valley and out the road. Once appointed, the person who fills Crane’s seat will sit on the Assembly until the next regular municipal election in October.

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