Brown to drop out of School Board race

Announcement comes amid questions about candidate's financial troubles

Posted: Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Greg Brown announced Tuesday he will withdraw from the three-way race for the Juneau School Board.

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Two areawide seats are up for grabs and two candidates remain: Destiny Sargeant and JoAnne Bell-Graves.

Brown's announcement came in the middle of a Juneau Empire interview in which Brown changed course and said, "I think I better go down and withdraw."

To read a copy of Greg Brown's resignation letter click here

The conversation centered on Brown's past personal financial troubles.

"It's not going to look good," he said.

City Clerk Laurie Sica said Brown's decision is the first she can remember in which a candidate pulled out after ballots were printed. The absentee voting is already underway and Brown's name will remain on the ballot, Sica said.

Votes for Brown will go uncounted once the elections office receives Brown's intent to withdraw in writing, she said.

Court records detail judgments against Brown for defaulted loans and lines of credit going back to the early 1990s, including a longstanding IRS debt. In one case, Brown was pursued, financially, for more than a decade on a defaulted boat loan.

Brown said his debts stem from a debilitating back injury in the late 1990s that left him unable to work in construction and the fishing industry.

Records show that Brown did not pay federal income taxes between 1990 and 2004. During 2005 court proceedings, Brown told a magistrate that his wife took care of the taxes for their entire marriage. As of 2005, Brown owed the IRS $21,253 in back taxes.

Brown said he is paying off the tax debt and believes that he paid off the other debts. He said some of the debt became his ex-wife's responsibility in their divorce agreement.

"It might have been a verbal agreement," Brown said.

Brown, a drug and alcohol counselor at SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, said he decided to run for the School Board after talking with students. He wanted to solve the much-discussed dropout rate among Alaska Native youth.

"One of the best ways would be to hire more certified teachers," Brown said. "We would have to make better package deals to lure them in here."

In an effort to reduce the dropout rate of Alaska Native students, Brown had hoped to add more traditional arts and culture programs to the school district.

"We have to make school more interesting to them," he said.

For six years, Brown worked with students at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School, teaching Tlingit language and culture. Under his tutelage, 80 kids made traditional blankets.

"I was proud of that," Brown said.

With Brown out of the race, the two School Board seats will go to the top two candidates, Sica said.

As of Tuesday, no write-in campaigns had yet been mounted for the School Board seats. Sica said mounting a write-in campaign so late in the game would be tough, but it remained "a remote possibility."

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