Assembly Member Ruth Danner said Friday that she will not seek reelection to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly, saying she would like to see what she can do as a private citizen for a change.
Danner said she intends to remain active in the community, particularly on issues like housing and homelessness, but she does not believe the Assembly provides the best outlet for her.
“When I think about the work that I really like, the work that I’m really interested in … I think that there might be more benefit I could help provide as not an elected official,” Danner said. “I’m eager to see what I can do on the outside now that I understand the rules a little bit better.”
Serving on the Assembly has been “hard work,” Danner said, though she remarked that she has “learned a lot.”
“Assembly service requires you to be a generalist. You have to care about every little thing,” Danner said. “I want to focus on the things that are important to me.”
Danner said she decided “a long time ago” not to seek a second term on the Assembly, but she had been wanting to wait for the right moment to announce her choice.
“My problem is that I have always been looking for that perfect timing,” said Danner. “I wanted to be able to avoid lame-duck status as long as possible, but also, I wanted to get the word out sooner anyway because there are people who wouldn’t run against me, who would make the decision not to run against me, and I wanted to give them the time to consider the possibility.”
Danner left open the possibility of serving in city government in an unelected capacity, possibly on advisory boards or committees.
“I will make myself available to the new mayor, whoever that might be, if they see a place where my kind of focus … on detail and my commitment to our community is of value. I want to be an active player, but I just don’t think the Assembly is the right place for my personal … style,” said Danner. “Maybe Assembly service isn’t the best fit for Ruth Danner.”
Danner did offer praise for her fellow Assembly members, though. She said she appreciated the “lack of partisanship” in the body, as well as its members’ passion for the community.
“I know that all of the Assembly members have the good of Juneau in their hearts,” Danner said.
Earlier this month, a dispute between Danner and Docks and Harbors over the proposed Don D. Statter Harbor haul-out reverberated through city government.
“I didn’t intend to have this recent blowout with Docks and Harbors,” said Danner. “That really wasn’t carefully orchestrated by me in any way at all. So once that happened, even then, I was ready to say something (about reelection), and I had to pull back because it would look like I was running away.”
But Danner said she has worked hard to get people to ask more questions about how government works in Juneau.
“I want them to know that it’s okay to speak up. It doesn’t hurt. There’s no wound inflicted. It’s important to say what really matters to you,” Danner said. “If you don’t speak up, then you know for sure there will be no impact.”
Danner added, “The thing that I’m proudest of as an Assembly member is that I think I have seen more people speak up, not be afraid to ask questions, not just accept everything at face value, and I think that that’s really important in government. You can’t just let … things move along without oversight.”
Danner was first elected to the Assembly in 2009. Her decision not to run again means that the races for all three Assembly seats up for election this cycle will not feature an incumbent.
• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.