Pelican mayor resigns for Municipal League job

Wasserman leaves small fishing community to be a policy coordinator

Posted: Thursday, June 24, 2004

Kathie Wasserman resigned earlier this month as mayor of the fishing community of Pelican for a job in Juneau with the Alaska Municipal League.

Wasserman served six years as mayor and city administrator for the community of about 115.

Pelican suffered a major blow in March when Kake Tribal Corp. closed its fish processing plant, Pelican Seafoods, and laid off some 15 workers. Pelican, like other communities throughout the state, also lost state financial support last year through revenue sharing that was cut out of the state budget.

But despite recent setbacks, Wasserman is optimistic that the town will prevail.

"I think there's a majority of us that feel this town has a lot of strong things going for it," Wasserman said. "This town is going to survive with or without Pelican Seafoods."

Wasserman said the community needs to get away from depending on a single industry. But she said she did not quit the job as mayor out of frustration with the town's economy.

"I just had a really good job opportunity I wanted to take advantage of," she said. "A town needs a change as well, after awhile."

Wasserman will leave the community for a job as a program and policy coordinator for the Alaska Municipal League, an organization representing towns and cities throughout the state. For the last 15 years, Wasserman has been a private consultant. Wasserman will perform many of the same functions as a municipal consultant.

Wasserman's replacement will be chosen during an election in October, according to Acting Mayor Patty Hammell.

Hammell gave few details about the political climate of the fishing town, but added that Wasserman had outspoken political opponents.

"There were a couple of people around town that made things miserable," Hammell said. "That's just politics. I think some of the issues were rather personal. Kathie took a stand and she's a very wise woman."

Wasserman said she would live in Juneau for the job but travel back to Pelican regularly to visit her husband, who plans to stay.

• Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at timothy.inklebarger@juneauempire.com.



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