Juneau’s new mayor, Merrill Sanford, was sworn in Monday evening at a special meeting of the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly that saw outgoing Mayor Bruce Botelho and Deputy Mayor David G. Stone say their goodbyes after nine consecutive years of Assembly service.
The characteristically laconic Stone, after wryly remarking that he is “a man of few words,” singled out fellow Assemblymembers Randy Wanamaker and Johan Dybdahl, both of whom served during much of Stone’s time on the Assembly, for special praise during his remarks as an outgoing assemblymember.
“I’m sure your wisdom and your institutional knowledge will be valued by the Assembly,” Stone told Wanamaker.
To Dybdahl, Stone said, “You always reminded me that the glass is half full, not half empty.”
Stone also identified Botelho as “a good friend,” a sentiment Botelho reciprocated.
Stone and Botelho were both elected in 2003. Botelho said that before subsequent elections in 2006 and 2009, the two men made a mutual agreement to “jump together” in seeking reelection.
The longest-serving mayor in Juneau’s history (http://bit.ly/XgiwBY) and a self-studied historian of the city, Botelho referred back to the Juneau of 1912 in his remarks.
“Even while we’re managing the day-to-day affairs of our community, we can’t afford to lose sight of the long view,” Botelho said. The question he said he wanted to leave the Assembly with was, “How does what we do today affect the generations to follow?”
Both Stone and Botelho praised the work of city staff. Stone referred to City Clerk Laurie Sica, who oversaw this month’s municipal election, as “the best city clerk in the state of Alaska.” Botelho extended that epithet to Deputy City Clerk Beth McEwen as well.
Before City Attorney John Hartle swore in the new members of the Assembly, Botelho acknowledged both Sanford and newly-minted Assemblymember Loren Jones.
“Loren, for you, I know this will be a great adventure,” Botelho told Jones, his compatriot in the Alaska Sea Party’s unsuccessful campaign for a coastal management program earlier this year (http://bit.ly/SQXg4V).
As for Sanford, Botelho said, “I think the citizens of Juneau are incredibly fortunate to have as their new mayor a person who has dedicated his life to service to our community and who brings a wealth of knowledge about the workings of city government … and our legislative process.”
Absent from the meeting was Assemblymember Ruth Danner, who is traveling on business this week (http://bit.ly/SXXKbx). Danner’s elected successor, Jerry Nankervis, was also unable to attend the meeting.
According to Hartle, Assemblymember-elect Nankervis is not officially on the Assembly until he takes the oath of office.
Hartle said after the meeting that he can administer the oath at any time, including by telephone, but he plans to recommend to Sanford that Nankervis be sworn in “at the beginning of the next meeting,” which is set for next Monday.
After being sworn in alongside Jones and receiving a thunderous standing ovation, Sanford presented engraved crystals to Stone and Botelho, similar to the one Botelho gave Danner at her final meeting last week. He also gave Botelho a crystal gavel symbolizing the mayor’s role as leader of the Assembly.
“When I see you on the street, it’ll be Mayor Bruce,” Sanford told his predecessor, with whom he served on the Assembly for eight years. He added, “You definitely have affected our lives in the City and Borough of Juneau.”
City Manager Kim Kiefer also presented flowers to Stone’s wife, Laurel, and Botelho’s mother, Harriet.
During Assembly comments, all eight present members of the new 2012-13 Assembly thanked Stone and Botelho for their service.
Said Assemblymember Karen Crane, “I’ve learned a lot from both of them in the last year. You come into this position thinking that you know something valid, and you quickly realize how much more there is to learn — and they’ve both been excellent, excellent teachers.”
Jones used his first Assembly comments to acknowledge the departing members as well. He thanked Stone for his support of Bartlett Regional Hospital while Jones served on its board of directors and nodded to his own collaboration with Botelho this year.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with you, and I’m sure if I goof up, I’ll hear from you,” Jones said to Botelho.
Sanford’s more extensive comments offered a glimpse of his style and outlook as mayor.
“It’s exciting — it’s a little bit scary — to be sitting in the mayor’s spot,” Sanford said. “But we’ll move forward together, and hopefully as we start to debate and start to discuss issues, we’ll grow as a team and we’ll become a better team to serve our community, because that’s what it’s all about. We’re not sitting here, as you all know, to glorify our own selves, but to glorify our city as the capital city, and to make us the best we can, and to help our brothers, and even sisters, in Southeast Alaska to be able to move forward also.”
In addition to trumpeting Juneau’s place within Southeast Alaska — two other boroughs of which also elected new mayors this month (http://bit.ly/TWtBt0) — Sanford also told Assemblymembers in no uncertain terms that he expects them to review all their materials before each meeting and make sure they understand all of the issues at hand.
“I expect you all to do your homework,” said Sanford.
Sanford also invited assemblymembers interested in serving as deputy mayor to communicate with him before the position is filled at next Monday’s regular Assembly meeting.
In other news from the special meeting, Assemblymember Jesse Kiehl announced that Filipino Community, Inc., President Jenny Gomez Strickler has been made the Philippines’ honorary consul general to Alaska (http://bit.ly/ODvt7F). The honorary consul will be based in Juneau.
Strickler, whose term as president ends next month, did not attend the Assembly meeting.
• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.