Juneau Rep. Bill Hudson's surprise announcement on Tuesday evening that he will not seek re-election has given some potential candidates for the seat little time to make a June 1 filing deadline for the November election.
State law prevents filing for candidacy while working as a staff member for a state lawmaker. With the Legislature in an extended regular session through today and facing an upcoming special session on subsistence, potential candidates working at the Capitol would have to leave their positions before the state's work is complete.
Within hours of Hudson's announcement, Tim Grussendorf resigned from his position on Bethel Democratic Sen. Lyman Hoffman's legislative staff. Grussendorf filed as a Democratic candidate the next day.
Juneau Assembly member Dale Anderson, a possible Republican candidate, is another legislative staff member eyeing the House seat. Anderson works on the staff of Anchorage Republican Rep. Eldon Mulder. Anderson said the open seat "certainly opens the door for contemplating change."
Grussendorf, 36, said Hudson's announcement to leave the position representing District 4 came as a surprise, but added that he had planned to run for the seat.
"I fully intended on running and told Bill three weeks ago," Grussendorf said. "I assumed I was going to have to run against him."
Grussendorf is the son of former speaker of the House and 20-year legislative veteran Ben Grussendorf. He has served for the last six months on the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association and on the Juneau Docks and Harbors Board since November.
He has lived in Juneau since 1989 and worked as a commercial fisherman for about 15 years.
Grussendorf said he favors an income tax to generate new revenue for the state.
"We haven't been growing," Grussendorf said. "Without a new revenue stream we can't go forward."
He said he hopes to pick up where Hudson left off in helping to formulate a fiscal plan, but from a Democratic caucus.
Anderson, who is considering running for the seat, said, "It's a huge decision and I'll have to make it first for what is best for my family and then for our community.
"Juneau continues to face big challenges and it's going to need a representative who can be in a key position to carry our water much like Bill Hudson has been able to do for us."
But Anderson, 53, is prevented from filing until he ends his position with Mulder, the co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Anderson has served one term on the Assembly representing District 2, and his term ends in November 2003.
"I'm enjoying the challenges of working at the local assembly level because it's all about finding solutions for friends and neighbors," he said. "But no matter what the level of the public service it ends up to be, it is most important to make sure the work accomplished brings the greatest benefit to our community."
Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org