On the last day of the municipal candidate filing period in Juneau Monday, the treasurer of Juneau’s local chapter of the League of Women Voters jumped into the race to succeed Mayor Bruce Botelho.
Cheryl Jebe, a North Douglas resident, retired state employee and former Alaska LWV president, said she wants to provide voters with an alternative to former Assemblymember Merrill Sanford in October’s mayoral election.
“I’m going to be listening to people, because I think that a new fresh set of eyes will add clarity and improvement,” Jebe explained. “And so I’m going to be asking people how have the last 10 years met their expectations.”
Sanford sat on the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly from 2002 to 2011, when he was termed-out after three consecutive terms, just as Botelho is this year.
On Monday, Sanford said he welcomes Jebe’s entrance into the race.
“I think it’s great,” said Sanford. “It gives us an easier time of giving our viewpoints back and forth, and people can listen to our responses on the different issues and then go and vote and choose who they want to be their mayor.”
Jebe voiced a similar sentiment.
“I would bring a new fresh set of eyes on issues,” Jebe said. “And I’m hoping that it will all be positive and Merrill and I are both working for the benefit of Juneau. And then it will be up to the people to decide which of our styles will best benefit Juneau.”
The decision to run came recently for Jebe, who said she decided to get in the race over the weekend after about a week’s consideration.
Jebe attended a meeting last Friday between the Juneau Empire and LWV officials on the candidate questionnaire and voters’ guide on which the two organizations annually collaborate. At that meeting, she did not mention she was thinking of becoming a candidate.
“I didn’t know whether I was going to run Friday, but I’ve been encouraged by many people,” Jebe said. “Things just moved along to where I filed today.”
Juneau LWV President Judy Andree said Jebe had limited involvement with the voters’ guide this year.
“She did not donate or suggest any questions on the list,” Andree said.
Andree said she had invited Jebe to the meeting Friday due to her experience with the voters’ guide in the past.
Jebe said she wasn’t taking any advantage of her involvement in putting together the voters’ guide, stating that she attended the meeting as merely “support” because of her past experience with it. She has acted as a moderator at candidate forums in the past as well.
“I know I have to step back and let other members take the lead on it,” said Jebe of the questionnaire and voters’ guide. “I just felt that I could maybe have an idea or two that might not get raised. … There are lots and lots of issues to be discussed, and I don’t feel that I influenced any of the questions whatsoever.”
In keeping with her involvement with the nonpartisan LWV, as well as her previous work posing questions to municipal candidates, Jebe said a focus of her campaign will be educating voters about the political process and the issues at hand.
“I want to kind of focus on voter education – encouraging people to vote, to register to vote, and to vote, and to be educated on the issues,” Jebe said. “The better education we have for our voters, the better our community will be.”
In her campaign filing with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, Jebe filed “exempt.” That status means she can raise and spend up to $5,000 during the duration of her campaign without having to file campaign disclosure forms with APOC.
“They’re typically a smaller campaign that just won’t have a whole lot of activity,” said Heather Hebdon, associate attorney to APOC, of the typical profile of an exempt campaign. “It just saves them the filing of documents. I mean, they file an exemption statement and that’s basically it. … It’s just easier for them.”
Jebe said that, having not run for office since an unsuccessful bid for Assembly in 1990, she is “not sure how it’s all going to shake out.”
“I’ve been told that might be naïve of me, but I’m trying (to run exempt),” Jebe said. “I can switch if it turns out I’m going to need to spend more.”
Other candidates filing as exempt this year include Paul Nowlin, running for District 1 on the Assembly, and Will Muldoon and Andrea Story, candidates for the Juneau School District’s Board of Education.
• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.