Mayoral candidates Saralyn Tabachnick, left, Gregory Norton, center, and Beth Weldon answers questions during a Special Native Issues Forum at the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Mayoral candidates Saralyn Tabachnick, left, Gregory Norton, center, and Beth Weldon answers questions during a Special Native Issues Forum at the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Opinion: Thank you, Juneau, for this opportunity

Campaigning was new to me, and I learned a lot.

When I first decided to run for mayor of our beloved Juneau, I thought of it as a continuation, a broadening of my community and public service which I’ve been successfully providing at AWARE (Aiding Women in Abuse & Rape Emergencies) for over 31 years.

I imagined bringing the leadership, team-building and fiscal responsibility that’s grown AWARE so beautifully, to the entire City and Borough of Juneau. I looked forward to bringing the lessons I learned at AWARE, where we’re so cognizant of issues of power and control (because they form the base of gender-based violence, and violence against our most vulnerable people), to the CBJ. I was excited about uniting our community, where everyone had not only a seat at the table, but also a voice at the table, and where we opened new lines of communication with Alaska Native leaders. I brought a vision of a 21st century capital city where people of all ages, across all cultures and lifestyles, enjoy rich, fulfilling and secure lives — the most vulnerable among us and the most privileged among us sharing the same future. I think this is what democracy looks like.

Campaigning was new to me, and I learned a lot. Weekly team meetings were important and instructive. Knocking on doors and meeting Juneau voters was inspirational. Preparing and presenting at community forums was an adventure in refining my message and refining my skills.

Although I’m not Juneau’s next mayor, I don’t feel defeated. Working on this campaign has been life-changing. The Saralyn for Mayor team has been exceptional — first time campaigners along with seasoned campaigners, all giving me hope for the future I dream of — a strong network of doers engaged in ensuring Juneau works for every person here. I expected to make a significant investment in my campaign; what I didn’t expect was that other volunteers would as well.

I’m humbled to my core by the extensions of generosity and support. I stood alongside people who never registered or voted before. I received donations from people who had never made political contributions before. We put up yard signs in yards where they’d never before been planted. Volunteers who never worked on a campaign before were ever-present, and people invited friends to their homes so that I could speak with them and listen to them, and raise some funds. I found it deeply inspiring and meaningful. I will continue to work for community on behalf of all of us. I am so very proud with all who voted for me, believed in me and shared a vision, and so grateful for your support.

The day of the election I got a call from an ACLU board member in Anchorage, asking me to go to Washington, D.C. to meet with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski about the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. I was honored to make the trip and to be among #100AKWomen. The work continues.

My very best wishes to Beth Weldon. I spent a lot of time with Beth at forums and Juneau events. Her mother was ever present for her as my partner, Swarupa Toth, was present for me. Weldon’s mother noted that we were together so often, we were like family. After one forum, I suggested to Weldon that when this is all over, we might go out for a beer. She agreed. I wish her every success in her service to all of us as the next mayor of the City and Borough of Juneau.


• Saralyn Tabachnick was a Mayoral candidate in the recent municipal election. She is the Executive Director of AWARE, serving survivors of sexual and domestic abuse, and coordinating prevention efforts throughout the City and Borough of Juneau. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.


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