After last year’s municipal election featured no contested candidate races for three City and Borough of Juneau Assembly seats, Mayor Beth Weldon said she’s hoping to see more action this time around as the filing period is fast approaching for this year’s election on Oct. 3.
“I hope to see some more candidates run — it’s nice for people to have choices,” Weldon said.
On Saturday the Assembly chambers at City Hall downtown was filled with more than 30 residents including current, former and — hopefully — future local elected officials who gathered to partake in the city’s 8th annual “How To Run For Local Office” workshop.
The workshop featured a panel of officials including current and former mayors, Assembly members, Juneau School District Board of Education members and presidents who, throughout the multi-hour event, shared their lessons learned and words of wisdom on what it’s really like to be a decision-maker for the city.
During this municipal election, voters will decide on who will fill three seats of the nine-person Assembly as the positions filled by current members Maria Gladziszewski (areawide), Alicia Hughes-Skandijs (District 1) and Christine Woll (District 2) are up for the taking.
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.
Of the three current members, Hughes-Skandijs and Woll can run for reelection if they choose 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 mayoral race will not occur in this election.
Along with the positions for Assembly opening up, voters will also be asked to choose two seats opening on the district’s school board, currently occupied by Brian Holst and Martin Stepetin Sr.
Unlike the Assembly, there is no term limit for school board positions, meaning both are able to run for reelection if desired.
Though the room was filled with more than 30 people, with more than five people indicating interest in running for Assembly and one person for school board, voters won’t know for sure who is running until the filing period for local candidates which opens Friday, July 14, and closes Monday, July 24.
During the workshop, participants were given the basic framework of what they should expect if they were to become elected officials, along with the 411 on running a successful campaign, and how to abide by election rules and requirements.
Beyond common-sense advice such as attending Assembly or school board meetings, listening to voters and becoming well-educated on local issues, panel members were not hesitant to make sure potential candidates knew just what they’d be getting into.
“It’s a lot of work,” said Mila Cosgrove, former deputy city manager whose comment was met with a laugh from the participants. “There is a lot of information and on complex issues with tentacles that touch many different things.”
Another panelist, current board president Deedie Sorensen, agreed and said as a board member often has to make difficult decisions on things that are out of their control. However, despite the challenges that come with the positions, Sorensen said being on the board has given her the opportunity to be a “lifelong learner.”
Beyond candidates for the open Assembly and school board seats, other things that may appear on the ballot like propositions are still up in the air. Next month the Assembly is expected to vote on whether to put a $27 million bond for a new City Hall project on the ballot, and other potential propositions may surface in the coming weeks.
For residents interested in running for local office, but unable to attend the meeting, the informational packet included at the meeting can be found on the city website or at https://juneau.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/2023_HtRfLOToolkit_Full.pdf
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at email@example.com or (651)-528-1807.