Third-generation Alaskan and Juneau-transplant Paul Kelly hopes to join the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly and has recently kicked off his campaign for the seat.
During this fall’s municipal election, two seats will be open on the assembly. One is being vacated by longtime Assembly member Loren Jones, who is barred from running again due to term limits.
Kelly, who first moved to Juneau as a legislative aide for Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, is currently wrapping up his first term on the Juneau school board, serving as clerk for the body.
Professionally, he works as an analyst/programmer at the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. He’s also pursuing a master of public administration degree at the University of Southeast Alaska.
At a recent interview downtown, Kelly shared the color-coded, hour-by-hour online calendar that helps him keep track of his commitments and lets him stay on track with his hectic schedule. He shared that a quiz he took as part of his graduate studies revealed that he had an “analytical mind,” and the calendar serves as a salient proof point to that finding.
Making public service a priority
Kelly said that public service is vital to him and that he makes it a priority. He said that he’s starting his campaign for the seat early to have more time to reach out to stakeholders.
“The whole reason I got into public service is to take ownership. I have skin in the game,” he said. “I’ve spent a lot of time growing as a public servant. I care about quite a few issues,” he said.
Kelly said that his time on the school board has been instrumental in his growth.
“The school board was more of a challenge than I expected. That helped develop me as a leader. I learned a lot on the board,” he said.
Kelly said that while he cares deeply about public education, his interest in a broader sphere of topics led him to throw his hat into the ring for the city assembly.
“I like advocating for people,” he said.
Kelly was complimentary of the current assembly members and said that he’s a fan of incremental change.
“My experience with public service is that radical change does not happen quickly, and you don’t want it to,” he said.
Kelly praised the assembly for the city’s response to COVID-19.
“They did a good job balancing freedoms and rights. We can contrast that with how things have gone in Anchorage,” he said.
But, Kelly said that he does see areas ripe for improvement, such as assisting the city’s unsheltered population and finding additional ways to explore options related to the visitor industry.
But, he’s not in favor of changing the city’s charter to add restrictions on large cruise ships. Currently, petitions are circulating to move a trio of ballot initiatives aimed at taming cruise ship traffic onto the October ballot.
“I will not be signing the petitions, and if they make it to the ballot, I will vote no,” he said. “The conversation needs a finer touch.”
More about Paul
Originally from Anchorage, Kelly said that Juneau suits him because he likes the mountains, outdoor activities and the convenience of a smaller town.
“I like how easy it is to meet people and form connections,” he said.
He graduated from Dimond High in Anchorage in 2003 and from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2016. He has a degree in computer systems engineering and minors in electrical engineering, mathematics, and French.
He said that he loves to hike the Salmon Creek Dam Trail and enjoys dining at Seong’s Sushi Bar for sushi and V’s Cellar Door. When he’s in the mood for ice cream, he pays a visit to Coppa.
•Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-308-4891.