Heads and tails: Juneau assemblyman files for Senate - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, September 19, 2021
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Heads and tails: Juneau assemblyman files for Senate

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Legislative aide and City and Borough Assemblyman Jesse Kiehl has announced in front of Alaska’s Capitol his run for Senate.

Kiehl has been the aide to Sen. Dennis Egan, who is retiring from Senate District Q and whose seat Kiehl hopes to win. He is a Democrat and the announcement has been expected since Sen. Dennis Egan announced his retirement.

Kiehl lives just steps from the Capitol in what is likely the most liberal precinct in the state. Precinct 2 voted for Bill Walker for governor by 83 percent in 2014, and earlier that year had voted to repeal SB 21 by 83 percent.

SB 21 was legislation that lowered some taxes for the oil industry, something that Walker and the Democrats vehemently opposed.

The rest of Senate District Q is not as liberal as Kiehl’s downtown Juneau precinct. House District 33 and 34 that make up Senate District Q voted just 56 percent for Walker and voted to repeal SB 21 by 65 percent in 2014.

Whether Kiehl is too far to the left for the entire District Q, which stretches to Haines, Skagway, and Gustavus, will be the subject of much coffee shop and church hall discussion in coming months. As a professional government worker for most of his life, he has no experience in the private sector. He worked as an aide to Sen. Kim Elton before Elton left to take a job in the Obama Administration. And Kiehl clearly has the support of the Alaska Democratic Party.

Also having filed for that seat is Don Etheridge, a labor leader who is non aligned with either party, and Larry Cotter, a nonpartisan.

It seems increasingly unlikely that a Republican will join the race.

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Kiehl is adamantly opposed to Juneau Access in any form, and that appears to be very much out of step with the district although the case can be made that those opposed to the road are more likely to vote than are those supporting the road. Kiehl also loudly opposed the downtown Juneau merchants in their pleas for the Assembly to do something about the violent downtown inebriates, and nothing has been done about that problem – in part because of Kiehl and in part because well, it’s Juneau. Kiehl also unsuccessfully led an attempt to tax cruise ship passengers for sales made when a ship is in ‘Juneau waters,’ but he has been successful in his efforts to annually and continually increase the size of city government. It’s possible that no Alaska legislative race will be harder fought this year. Kiehl comes from wealthy Anchorage people and campaign money will travel from Anchorage to Juneau where it is most needed.

  • Would he send his PFD back to the state to support his liberal leanings? I bet not.

  • I think that Larry Cotter is a candidate worth listening to. He has been pivotal in developing instrafstructre throughout the Aleutians through the CDQ group, APICDA. His pragmatic approach to leading really sets the stage for much-needed concensus in the legislature.

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