Election filings for Assembly, school board are sparse

Posted: Sunday, August 15, 2010

Three Assembly seats and two school board seats aren't garnering a lot of interest for the upcoming election.

Only two people, one an incumbent, filed to run for Assembly, while only one person had signed up to run for the Juneau School District's Board of Education, as of Friday afternoon.

Laurie Sica, municipal clerk, said it can be common for a lack of filings in city or school elections depending on the year.

"It's a big job to be on the school board or the assembly," she said. "People need to think seriously of their time commitments or what they're able to do."

Seats up for election in the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly are an areawide seat, along with spots in Districts 1 and 2.

Johan Dybdahl is running for re-election to his areawide seat. However, District 1 Assemblyman Jeff Bush and District 2 Assemblyman Randy Wanamaker won't be back for another round. The filing period closes 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Wanamaker will finish out his third and maximum allowable term.

"I enjoyed public service and I think I've learned a lot from the community I was able to serve."

Wanamaker said he's going to look for other ways to serve the community, however he doesn't have any plans yet. He does encourage other citizens to apply for the job.

"It's important people take part in their community," Wanamaker said. "There's always important issues before the community."

Wanamaker said people shouldn't focus so much concern on the time commitment, adding city staff is efficient at putting together necessary information and that meetings are consistent.

Bush said he is ready to spend more time at home.

"I've been doing public service in the city for 12 years now," he said, "so I'm ready for a break."

Bush said he's at retirement age and is simplifying his life.

School board veteran Mary Becker has filed for Bush's seat.

"I have lived in Juneau since 1966," she said. "This is my town, this is my home. I raised my family here, my grandchildren now. I taught school here for 30 years. I love this community."

Her prior service includes teaching at various schools in the district until retirement, then nine years on the Juneau School District board. She currently serves on the Alaska Committee, which is involved in keeping Juneau as the state capital, and is also a member of the United Way board and chairwoman of the city Social Service Advisory Committee.

Becker sees several topics as upcoming and ongoing issues for the city: The economic situation - namely the cost of living and the budget; the second Douglas crossing; docks, sea walks and downtown improvements; and utility rates.

"There's no doubt in my mind there will be many others that will come up when I listen to the public share what their issues are," she said. "I'm really looking forward to serving on the assembly."

As for the school board, members Destiny Sargeant and JoAnne Bell-Graves haven't re-filed for election. Ivan Nance has filed for one of the seats.

"I can't think of anything more important for me to spend some time on than helping the schools anyway I can." he said. "I have gone to the schools a few times and looked around. I'm a parent. I saw the school board position was open and thought I'd give it a try."

Nance medically retired from the Coast Guard in 1996 and lived in Oregon, his home state, until 2004. He said he was involved in volunteer education programs that help children and youth in Oregon.

He doesn't have a "pet list" of issues that need to be worked on, but Nance said he thinks he can be of help on some of the big topics that come up like drugs, which students go to what school, the budget and anything else that crops up.

"I had to get 25 signatures to file for this position," he said. "Everybody I talked to had an idea or a question. It's stimulating to me to hear what people think and what they're concerned about."

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or sarah.day@juneauempire.com

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