Familiar, fresh faces for school board

With 12 years of experience, Andi Story returns to Juneau’s School Board, along with newcomers Josh Keaton and Emil Mackey.

Tuesday’s election results showed Story, 500 votes ahead of the second-closest candidate, was the clear favorite of Juneau voters. She received 2,730 votes. Keaton also won a seat on the board with 2,194 votes, as did Mackey, with 2,006, according to preliminary results.

Candidate Jason Hart was a close fourth with 1,633 votes. Jeff Redmond followed with 1,127.

“Thank you” and “gunalchéesh” were Story’s first words to the 30-plus community members who gathered to watch the results from 13 precincts trickle in from “Election Center” at the City and Borough of Juneau’s Assembly chambers.

Story held the lead in each district, a vote of confidence she said she appreciated, especially in light of the tough financial decisions the board will have to face.

“It’s going to be a time of tight budgets across Alaska,” Story said. “I really appreciate our community being such strong supporters for our children’s education.”

Juneau School District Superintendant Mark Miller stood on the sidelines at Election Central, waiting to see who would join him at the round table for future board meetings. He said Story’s institutional knowledge of the school district will be an asset to the board.

“She’s a member of the state school board assembly, she has a background, the experience and knows where the district has been and a vision of where it’s going,” Miller said.

He also expressed excitement about having new faces on the board, a reference to Keaton and Mackey.

“We’re going to face some really difficult decisions in the next year or two around budgets, around curriculum, (union) negotiations,” Miller said. “The fact that they’re willing to jump in knowing that the decisions that they are going to have to make are probably not going to be popular, but they’re willing to do the right things for kids, I think is awesome.”

Mackey stayed home with family and friends while awaiting the results. In a phone interview after the preliminary results were announced, he said he had mixed emotions about his victory.

He said he was happy to see so many people have faith that he could do the job, but he said he couldn’t help but feel apprehensive, too, knowing the challenges ahead.

“It’s nice to have a victory, but I feel like I’ve captured a wild bull,” he said. “Now that I’ve got this bull, who’s got who?”

His game plan, he said, is to sit back a while before “asserting” himself. He said he plans to take time to learn what board wants to achieve and then channel his energy into helping them.

Keaton, also not present at Election Central, said he had to stay home and tuck the kids in for bed but that he’s excited to jump in and get started at the first post-election school board meeting Oct. 20. Although he won’t walk in with Story’s history, he said years of attending meetings has prepared him to a certain degree and he looks forward to pushing forward initiatives he spoke about during his campaign.

“I’d like to see more involvement with the public, extending public comment with a minimum of three minutes, regardless of how many people are at the meeting,” Keaton said during a phone call Tuesday night. “I want to try to engage them by asking questions and make those with comments and testimonies feel wanted.”

All three winners said the community clearly voiced in debates and pre-election forums what issues they need to tackle. Mackey and Story said school safety, specifically bullying, is an issue that needs to be given greater attention. Mackey said it’s about making children feel safe in their environment and keeping the district out of murky legal waters. Keaton said he would like to learn further about the need for truancy officers and school nurses at each site.

With Story back on the board, two new members and board member Brian Holst finishing his first year, Miller said it’s a whole new board and there will be a learning curve for all.

“That really changes the dynamics of the board,” Miller said.

He also had some advice for the new members of the board: “Our board meetings typically don’t end at eight o’clock. It’s hard work, so stay calm, stay the course, and also keep the kids first.”

 

Preliminary Results Released Tuesday by the City and Borough of Juneau:
Andrea “Andi” Story – 2,730

Josh Keaton – 2,194

Emil Mackey – 2,006

Jason Hart – 1,633

Jeff Redmond – 1,127

Write-In – 123

• Contact reporter Paula Ann Solis at 523-2272 or at paula.solis@juneauempire.com.

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