Haines: Borough assessor steps down

Posted: Sunday, July 14, 2002

After six mayors, five borough clerks, and 15 years on the job, borough assessor and land manager Dan Turner is stepping down.

Turner, who turns 50 in September, said family and business considerations are behind the decision. He has spent much of the past year on leave of absence to care for daughter Sarah, who's undergoing treatment for leukemia in Bellingham, Wash.

He said he needs to retire now to retain insurance benefits the family couldn't do without. "Sarah's turning 19 and she'd go off my insurance if I stayed on. If I retire she can stay on until she's 23."

He said the move also will allow him to devote more time to developing the family's Skagway-based glacier dogsled tour. "We're not leaving. I'll still be around."

Turner also said it's a good time to leave the job, considering results of the recent consolidation election, which will eventually require combining city and borough staffs.

Turner, an outspoken consolidation opponent, doesn't think he'd fit in. "I wouldn't want to work for (the combined municipality) and they wouldn't want me."

Turner's tenure, which began in l987 under then-mayor Bob Henderson, came after a year each on the borough assembly and borough planning commission. He came to the job after a career as a drywall contractor, but gained state certification as an assessor within a year.

Over the past 15 years, Turner's role grew to ad-hoc administrator, a role he said he tried to avoid.

"I've probably been at more assembly meetings and workshops than any man alive. It's more of a perception that I run the borough than reality. I end up being spokesperson, but I tried to stay out of administration."

But trying to stay out of decision-making also proved the most frustrating part of the job, he said. "To sit at assembly meetings when you know a wrong decision is being made and you can't speak out about it. You get used to it after a while because it happens all the time."

He said Haines' reluctance to compromise continues to frustrate him. "Our inability to work things out, and the way people are demonized over their stand on issues, that's disappointing."

Turner said he'll likely be a candidate for the new borough assembly. "It all depends on how Sarah's doing."

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