Dixie Hood withdrew as a candidate for the District 2 Juneau Assembly seat Tuesday, throwing her support to Stan Ridgeway in the race against Don Etheridge.
Hood, a psychotherapist, mediator and civic activist, decided to withdraw after extensive discussions with Ridgeway and supporters from both campaigns, she said. She and Ridgeway both initiated the conversations, she said.
"I thought that a three-way race would not work out well," Hood said this morning. "I experienced this last fall and it seemed that it would ensure the re-election of the incumbent. And because I wanted to see a change, I thought that one strong candidate was the best way to go."
Hood came in third in three-way race last year against Assembly member Randy Wanamaker and coastal planner Clancy DeSmet. This year's race will pit Assembly incumbent and labor lobbyist Etheridge against Ridgeway, a member of the Juneau School Board and deputy director of the state Division of Insurance. The city election is Oct. 1.
While Hood said she doesn't agree with Ridgeway on all matters, she was encouraged by his willingness to listen and seek public input, a key issue for her. She said Etheridge has impeded public participation in tourism management discussions and appointments to boards and commissions.
"I just would really like to see the Assembly be creative about ways to go to the public ... not to wait for official meetings in the chambers," she said. "I think the (city's online) survey done in regard to the tourism issue was a really good idea. It could be done around other issues as well."
Etheridge, chairman of a committee that handles board appointments and the makeup of a new city tourism committee, said he has given the public plenty of opportunity to comment.
After the first hearing on the tourism committee, Etheridge said he wanted more public participation but was out-voted by other committee members. He didn't put time limits on people who testified last month and has scheduled another hearing Sept. 9, he said.
"I'll keep on continuing until everyone's had a chance to have their say," he said.
Committee appointments have been the handled the same as in the past, except that the full Assembly now participates in interviews for the city's enterprise boards, he said.
Ridgeway said he'd like the Assembly to do a better job of communicating what its plans and processes are.
"I think we need to solicit more input from people up front and let the community know what we're doing, what the plans are," he said. "One of the biggest things is opening up communication."
Ridgeway said he respects Hood's work in the community and appreciates her withdrawal from the race and endorsement.
"Having a broader base of support behind one candidate instead of two increases a chance of a win and that's what we were interested in," he said.
Hood said she will return recent checks from contributors and is looking at the best way to deal with in-kind donations to her campaign. She said she would be willing to run for office in the future, but it's not something she's "fixated" on.
Etheridge said he was sorry to see Hood pull out, but doesn't plan to change his strategy.
"I'm not sure exactly what it's going to do to the dynamics," he said. "I expect my opponent to get a little bit more support. But I have my supporters locked in now and I'm working for more."
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