Deputy Mayor Michelle Bonnet Hale (left) talks with Assembly members (from right to left) Alicia Hughes-Skandijs, Wáahlaal Gíidaak Barbara Blake and Ella Adkison following an Assembly Finance Committee meeting Wednesday night. Hale and Blake, whose terms expire this fall, say they are not seeking reelection. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Deputy Mayor Michelle Bonnet Hale (left) talks with Assembly members (from right to left) Alicia Hughes-Skandijs, Wáahlaal Gíidaak Barbara Blake and Ella Adkison following an Assembly Finance Committee meeting Wednesday night. Hale and Blake, whose terms expire this fall, say they are not seeking reelection. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Two Assembly members say they won’t seek reelection ahead of annual ‘run for office’ workshop

Michelle Bonnet Hale and Wáahlaal Gíidaak Barbara Blake cite family and time considerations.

There will be at least two open Juneau Assembly seats this fall for residents interested in seeking local public office, as Deputy Mayor Michelle Bonnet Hale and Assembly member Wáahlaal Gíidaak Barbara Blake said this week they will not seek reelection.

Mayor Beth Weldon is also up for reelection in the third Assembly race in the City and Borough of Juneau’s Oct. 1 municipal election, although she has not yet declared her intentions.

Three of the seven seats on the Juneau Board of Education will also be on the ballot. Amber Frommherz said last month she is not sure yet if she will seek a second term and Will Muldoon (who became the first local candidate in decades to win a write-in campaign three years ago) stated in an email Thursday he is leaning toward running again, but he still needs to talk to his family. Board member Elizabeth Siddon could not be immediately reached for comment.

An annual workshop for people interested in running for any of those three-year terms — or people interested in helping others with campaigns — is scheduled from 8:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the Assembly Chambers at 155 S. Heritage Way. The workshop is free, although pre-registering at is encouraged to ensure enough materials are available for all participants.

A “How to Run For Local Office Handbook” is also available from CBJ’s elections page. The ninth annual workshop is hosted by CBJ and the Juneau League of Women Voters.

One common bit of advice from both of the Assembly members who are stepping down is to be aware of the time involved if elected.

“A suggestion might be to shadow an Assembly member — go to all the Assembly meetings and the liaison meetings,” said Hale, who is completing her second term. “We’re liaisons to boards and commissions, and so it’s just an astonishing amount of time.”

Hale said she’s stepping down both for personal reasons and because of some aspects of the job.

“My family is here and my mom is not getting any younger,” she said. “And I just have my own personal life that I want to participate in more fully.”

As for serving on the Assembly, which is continuing to face numerous contentious issues, “I am really tired of the negativity,” Hale said.

Blake, serving her first term, said she also made the decision not to run again based on family considerations and the time constraints that exist as a public official. She said people thinking about running for office should keep other aspects of their lives in mind.

“I guess I would say that you cannot be afraid to shift your priorities,” she said. “Serving for three years is in my mind just as noble as serving until you term out.”

Assembly members can serve up to three terms. There is no term limit for school board members.

Aspiring officeseekers should also keep their expectations realistic in terms of their political agenda, said Hale, a former state Division of Water director as well as a local business owner.

“When I was in my profession I (had) outcome-based agendas in my meetings,” she said. “I was very driven: ‘We’re going to do this meeting in an hour.’ When you have nine people on the Assembly and some people want to talk you just have to give it up.”

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at or (907) 957-2306.

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