Russian politics alive in Juneau

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, September 26, 2005

The recent actions of Jim Powell to inject himself into a local Assembly race lay bare the sad fact of politics in Juneau.

I have lived in Russia for all told five out of the last 15 years. As the country struggled toward open elections, what emerged was something very different. Especially in the hinterland of the country, local party bosses and their machines were largely left intact.

I always thought it unfortunate when a qualified independent candidate rose and was pushed out by the machine. The tactics were at times varied, from denial of resources, to vote rigging and outright intimidation to worse. But if you stood against the boss or his chosen candidate, the outcome was inevitable.

It is sadly humorous to see local Juneau politics follow the Russian model.

In his own statement against the candidacy of Mara Early, Jim Powel stated, "They get so caught up in the moment that they lose tract of what is best for the community."

I find the statement offensive to any candidate who has the courage to throw her hat into the ring.

Does Powell pretend to speak for the community as he tries to push Early out of the race?

Mara Early is a young woman with ideals who gave up her job because of her honest desire to serve. And yet, the local Democratic machine wants her out of what should be a nonpartisan election.

The issue loses its humor with the possibility that someone offered Early a job to withdraw from the race. I encourage Miss Early to report the name, and the person should be prosecuted for the attempt to corrupt the election.

Like Russia, Juneau machine politics just gets uglier and uglier. Unlike Russia, I hope Juneau will have the common sense to follow the matter up with an investigation.

To Mr. Powell and any others like you who have sought to sway the desire of a young woman to run, let's keep the dirt out of local elections.

Come Early in October, win, lose, or draw, may the best man or woman prevail.

Allan Engstrom


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