The Juneau Board of Education has two open seats in the upcoming municipal elections.

The Juneau Board of Education has two open seats in the upcoming municipal elections.

Candidates throw hats into ring for school board

Both anticipate difficult financial decisions ahead

At least two candidates have stepped forward for the two seats on the Juneau Board of Education that are up for election this year.

Martin Stepetin Sr. and Emil ‘Robert’ Mackey have filed their paperwork with the City and Borough of Juneau, rendering them eligible as candidates for the 2019 municipal elections, which are scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 1.

Education is a particularly weighty topic right now, in light of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s vetoes potentially reducing the amount of state funding for education and a general trend over the last several years of cutting the budget to education, said Mackey. Stepetin echoed these sentiments.

“In times like this, when there’s lots of cuts going on, education is a top priority for me,” Stepetin said.

Martin Stepetin Sr. is running for an open school board seat. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Martin Stepetin Sr. is running for an open school board seat. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Stepetin in particular argued for improvements to the base student allocation to combat inflation, which could keep the school budget from getting even weaker.

“If we don’t raise the BSA to at least match the inflation rate, every year, the school funding is going to be weaker by 2-3 percent,” Stepetin said.

Proposed cuts to the budget could hurt the school system badly, bankrupting schools in the worst case scenario, Mackey said.

Rough times are ahead, Mackey said, and the school board needs someone who’s ready for that.

“We need to have a school board that understands education, protects education, and advocates for education, especially right now,” Mackey said.

Emil “Robert” Mackey is running for an open school board seat. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Emil “Robert” Mackey is running for an open school board seat. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

“We want to make sure here, in the Juneau school district, we’re showing those legislators that we’re doing everything we can to spend our money wisely,” Stepetin said, referring to lawmakers who have asserted that funding to the education could be spent better.

“I’ve got kids that are young and they’re going to be in the school district for a long time,” Stepetin said. “I just want to get a little closer to the education system here in Juneau.”

Outgoing school board member Dan DeBartolo previously said he will not seek re-election.

Steve Whitney, the other member of the Juneau Board of Education with an expiring seat, has not yet filed his candidacy and could not be reached for comment.

Applications for both the Assembly and the Board of Education will be accepted until 4:30 p.m., Aug. 12.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 523-2271 or

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