Assembly candidate Early pressured to bow out of race

Some city leaders want her to leave to clear way for Doll

Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2005

Juneau Assembly candidate Mara Early has faced pressure to step down but said she will stay in the race.

Some city leaders, including former Deputy Mayor Jim Powell, have asked Early to drop out so she won't strip votes from another at-large candidate, Bob Doll.

"Some people categorize me as a progressive candidate and are concerned that I will split the votes from Bob," said Early, 23. "The Assembly race is a nonpartisan race."

Powell said he asked Early to withdraw because he was worried David Summers would benefit from the situation and win the election.

Based on his observation of Summers' past interactions with other business owners, Powell said, he doesn't think Summers would make a good Assembly member.

"He has trouble dealing with people who disagree with him," Powell said.

Summers, 35, owns Alaska Knifeworks and is president of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce and a former board member for the Downtown Business Association.

Summers said he had a good working relationship with Powell, and that it is unfortunate that the former Assembly member has chosen to inject himself in this campaign in such a negative way.

"This sounds like backroom partisan politics," Summers said.

Powell said Doll has the most pertinent life and professional experience of the candidates in the race.

Doll, 69, was in the Navy for 30 years before working as general manager of the Alaska Marine Highway System. He retired two years ago as Southeast regional director of Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. He also has name recognition as an unsuccessful challenger to Republican Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch in last year's election for the Alaska House of Representatives.

Early was an office assistant with the Juneau Teen Health Center, a city job that she said she quit to become eligible for the race. She is unemployed.

Powell said Early should look at the bigger picture.

"Sometimes when people run for an election, they get so caught up in the moment that they lose track of what is best for the community," Powell said.

Early said some people other than Powell have talked to her to drop out of the race. She said one even offered her a state job if she would quit, though she would not reveal names.

"I want the campaign to stay positive," Early said.

Party politics has played a role in the race, she said.

Both Doll and Early are registered Democrats. The other candidate, Summers, doesn't declare his party preference, according to the Alaska Division of Elections.

Early said her candidacy is not to promote a progressive agenda but to represent the whole community.

Doll said he and Early may appeal to many of the same voters but he expects the voters to recognize his experience and judgment.

Doll said for Early to factor against him it would have to be a close race.

"I don't think that will happen and I am working hard to make sure that won't happen," he said.

Summers declined to comment on whether he would benefit from the three-way race.

"The winner is the people of Juneau because they have an opportunity to pick from a field of well-qualified candidates," said Summers. "Mara is a valid candidate."

Molly Hodges, who has known Early since she was in grade school, said she supports Early even if some people don't think she is a viable or experienced candidate.

"As a gray-haired woman, I have a great regard for experience," Hodges said. "But I think we have a lot to learn from our youth."

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