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Four file for School Board seats

High school student says he plans to run as well

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2002

Bob Van Slyke, Julie Morris, Steve Kikendall and Jeremy Kerr have submitted their names as candidates for the Juneau School Board.

A Juneau-Douglas High School senior, Carl Brodersen, said he was gathering signatures today in order to meet the 4:30 p.m. filing deadline.

As of noon today, no further candidates had filed for three open seats on the Juneau Assembly in the Oct. 1 municipal election. Two seats are open on the seven-member School Board. Incumbents Deana Darnall and Carolyn Spalding have said they won't run for re-election.

Morris, a special assistant to the director at the state Department of Health and Social Services' Division of Public Assistance, said she is concerned about local students and the district's relationship with the Assembly.

"We are way behind schedule as far a building a new high school in the Valley. I consider that priority one," she said. "I'm really concerned about what the high school students are going to have to go through (at JDHS) while it's all torn up and they're trying to renovate it."

Morris has five children and has worked as an activity therapist in the school district.

Van Slyke was interim superintendent of the Juneau School District from December 1991 to July 1992 and superintendent from June 1993 to July 1995.

"No one else had filed and I've had a long-term interest in the school district and I have grandchildren attending school in the district," he said. "And I just thought it would be a shame if no one ran."

Kikendall, who manages Tyler Rental, served as school board president in Dutch Harbor. Since moving to Juneau seven years ago, he has considered running for the Juneau School Board and decided this was the year.

"I think bringing some experience to the job is imperative at this point. It seems like the board is in a little bit of disarray," Kikendall said.

He believes vocational technology options are important for high school students who may not be going on to college, and the schools need to continue providing extra-curricular activities to keep students in school.

He and his wife, Stacy, have a third-grade daughter at Gastineau Elementary.

"She's my campaign manager," Kikendall said.

Kerr, a youth minister for the Catholic Diocese of Juneau and a lifelong Juneau resident, works with high school-age students. He's also worked with the Juneau Effective Prevention project, which coordinates social services in town, particularly those that target at-risk youth, he said.

"I just want to make sure all the kids from elementary school on get a chance at a good education and none are left behind, that at-risk youth are also served and don't get left behind," he said.

Kerr said he's concerned about the space available for high school students during a renovation project at JDHS, and about a proposed high school in the Mendenhall Valley.

"I'm all for the new high school. The only concern I have is if the capital move thing goes through, we might have a big empty building sitting in the Valley," he said. "It's something we need to approach very carefully."

Brodersen is running for the School Board because he wants to increase the influence students have over their education. He feels student concerns often are brushed aside when students try to approach the board.

"I am a student, which gives me a good insight into this kind of thing," said Brodersen, who has attended Juneau public schools for 12 years and is now in the Alaska Scholars Program. He has considered politics as a possible future career.

Brodersen first thought of running for the school board in 2001, when then-JDHS senior Daniel Peterson was elected to the board. Just by running for the office he'll get other students interested in the school system and aware that they can make a difference, Brodersen said.

"Win or lose, at least having an 18-year-old run makes it seem like less of a strange rarity," Brodersen said.

JDHS student body president Mike James encouraged Brodersen to run for office because he also believes students need more representation on the board. The student council assigns one representative to the school board, but he or she doesn't have a vote.

"This year as student body president I think I really want to use what we have and make it one big working group, working for students and working for the school," James said. "I can't even imagine the amount of things we'll be able to get done this way, just by having someone in there that can vote."

In the race for the areawide seat on the Juneau Assembly, businessman Chuck Collins is running against incumbent Marc Wheeler. Incumbent Frankie Pillifant is running against Juneau Planning Commissioner Merrill Sanford for the District 1 seat. And Incumbent Don Etheridge is running against School Board member Stan Ridgeway and therapist Dixie Hood for the District 2 seat.

While Assembly candidates file for a seat based on where they live, Juneau residents can vote in all of the races.

Nominating petitions to run for local office are available at the city clerk's office and online at www.juneau.org/clerk/elections/.

Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com. Staff writer Kristan Hutchison contributed to this article.



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