Juneau Mayor Dennis Egan won't seek reelection in a race that features more candidates than the other assembly races combined.
Former state representative and administrator Sally Smith joined three other would-be mayors this morning, describing herself as a "peacemaker" and a candidate who offers the electorate a choice.
Egan has opted out after serving in a number of city offices for nearly 14 years. It was "a matter of kicking back," he said this morning.
"I've been doing this since 1989," he said. "And before that I served on the Planning Commission for three years."
Egan was elected to the Juneau Assembly in 1989, served as deputy mayor during his second term and has been mayor since 1995.
"If you want to dedicate yourself to it, the job is an easy 40 hours a week," Egan said of the part-time, $2,500-a-month position. Egan is also part-owner of and an on-air presence at Juneau's KINY radio station.
The long hours and low pay have not deterred mayoral candidates, however. Former Mayor Jamie Parsons and photojournalist Mark Farmer have filed the necessary nominating petitions with the city clerk. And Smith said this morning she expects to file before the 4:30 p.m. deadline today. Former areawide assembly candidate Patty Zimmerman also has announced her intent to fill the seat.
"The community needs to come together to listen to itself think," Smith said. "Right now we're all thinking out loud at the same time."
Smith described herself as a "peacemaker and a good administrator with the ability to listen and work with other people."
Smith said her candidacy presents voters with a choice. She characterized differences between herself and Parsons' transportation priorities as "internal" and "external."
"Jamie and I think differently with respect to transportation. I think our priority should be to solve downtown and valley traffic problems," she said.
Parsons supports a road out of Juneau, primarily, he has said, to satisfy the access concerns of those who want to move the capital to a location on the road system.
The former mayor also opposes the flightseeing-noise initiative on this fall's ballot, whereas Smith said she was bothered by the noise and has a high regard for those who back the petition. She nevertheless thinks the noise initiative goes "a little beyond what is necessary."
Smith served in the Legislature from 1977 to 1983 as Democratic representative from Fairbanks. She moved to Juneau in 1984 to serve as the Alaska Department of Revenue's Division of Public Services director. She then was named director of the state Division of Retirement and Benefits within the Department of Administration.
She was regional affairs coordinator with Bartlett Regional Hospital until February 1999. Smith is an arts development consultant and a tour guide for groups from other countries, she said.
If the mayor's race is heating up, the run for assembly is not.
As of this morning, incumbent Ken Koelsch, a federal customs official, is the only certified candidate for the District 1 seat. Small businessman Dale Anderson is the only certified candidate for the District 2 seat being vacated by outgoing assembly member Dwight Perkins, a state Department of Labor official.
Real estate consultant PeggyAnn McConnochie is the only certified candidate for the areawide seat. The winner of that seat will fill out the remaining two years of Tom Garrett's term. Garrett resigned to take a job out of state.
And school board races are equally uncrowded.
The city clerk has certified Juneau School Board member Chuck Cohen, a fisherman and property manager, to be on the ballot. As of this morning, he and incumbent Alan Schorr, a book publisher, were the only certified candidates for three open seats on the school board.