Unions, groups endorse hopefuls

Posted: Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Several unions and organizations have announced their endorsements for Juneau Assembly candidates.

Some candidates, such as District 2 contestant Jonathan Anderson, got endorsements from policemen, firefighters, a labor union and an environmental conservation group.

Some candidates haven't gotten any.

Anderson, director of the University of Alaska Southeast's public administration master's program, said an endorsement can help and hurt candidates.

"Endorsement is about identifying where people are standing," Anderson said. "Alaska Conservation Voters endorses me. Some people like the group. Some people don't. It can work both ways."

A Juneau policemen's union that represents 62 officers supports at-large candidate Bob Doll, District 1 candidate Joan Cahill and Anderson.

Paul Comolli, a police union representative, said Doll would make sure city employees enjoy the same benefits as state employees.

Comolli said the police union was disappointed with District 1 incumbent Merrill Sanford when Sanford supported Police Chief Richard Gummow's decision to change officers' shifts from 12 hours to eight hours, adding work days to their weeks.

"We think Joan Cahill is going to be more open-minded to our concerns," Comolli said.

A Juneau firefighters' union that represents 35 firefighters endorses Doll and Anderson. It doesn't take sides in the District 1 race, where Cahill competes against Sanford, a career and volunteer firefighter for 30 years.

"We feel that Merrill didn't represent labor when police had their problems," said firefighter union representative Trevor Richards. "But Merrill is a friend of the fire department in many ways. We decided to stay out of the race."

Cahill said she would have gotten the firefighters' endorsement if Sanford were not a former firefighter.

Sanford said he supports unions because they are good for their members.

Like the firefighters' union, the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, which represents 250 city employees and 80 Alaska Marine Highway System employees, doesn't endorse a candidate in the District 1 race. It supports Doll and Anderson in the other races.

"We consider Bob Doll a man of the world," said Ben Goldrich, a union representative for the marine engineers' union. "Anderson works at the university. He is in a better position to understand the needs of municipal employees" than his opponent, Andrew Green.

The Juneau Central Labor Council, which represents about 1,000 members, said it endorses at-large candidate David Summers, Sanford and Anderson.

"We feel that David Summers is going to work with us better than Bob Doll because of the way he presented himself," said Max Mielke, president of the Juneau Central Labor Council. He said he spoke for himself, not for the union.

Mielke said the endorsement for Summers has generated some internal controversy because representatives couldn't agree on the decision.

Summers said he appreciates the Juneau Labor Union Council's support but he hasn't sought endorsements.

"I didn't seek endorsements because I want to work directly with the people," Summers said. "Juneau voters are very independent."

At-large candidate Mara Early said she doesn't seek endorsements, either.

"I am not focusing so much on organizational endorsements as on individuals," Early said. "Individuals and families are more representative of the community."

Mielke said the Central Labor Council supports Sanford because he has a good track record with unions.

"It's not that we don't like his opponent, Joan Cahill," Mielke said. "It's just that we don't want to turn our back on Mr. Sanford."

Mielke said despite the endorsement, how people will vote is another matter.

Green, who hasn't got any endorsements, said the voters will decide who will win in the election.

• I-Chun Che can be reached at ichun.che@juneauempire.com.

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