Left to right, Saralyn Tabachnick, Norton Gregory, Beth Weldon
CAPITAL CITY FACES MAJOR POWER SHIFT
With Friday’s announcement that Juneau Mayor Ken Koelsch is retiring from politics, two members of the Juneau Assembly have thrown their names in the hat for the job.
Norton Gregory and Beth Weldon filed their letters of intent on Friday. They’ll have to resign from the Assembly, which will leave two more spots open in the Oct. 2 municipal election.
The mayor’s race has become a three-way, with Saralyn Tabachnick, the director of the AWARE Shelter, having announced her candidacy already.
The role of the mayor of the Capital City is like a super-member of the Assembly, and also the ceremonial representative for the city in any major event, including to the Legislature and important visitors. The city is run with a city-manager form of government, and the mayor presides over the Assembly meetings.
The political stability in Juneau just became more wobbly. As many as 12 major political seats are going to change, between the School Board, Assembly and the Legislature.
Six of those seats are on the Assembly, which has nine members, including the mayor. A change of two-thirds of the Assembly may have a profound impact on the community.
Also on the October ballot will be three Juneau School Board member seats, with two of them changing hands in October: Josh Keaton announced he will not run again, while the seat held by Andi Story opens up because she is running for House District 33. The seat held by Emil Mackey could change, but he is seeking re-election and is, so far, unopposed.
WHAT SEATS ARE OPENING UP?
All three legislators representing Juneau are not returning: Sen. Dennis Egan and Reps. Justin Parish and Sam Kito decided to pursue other opportunities. Their replacements will be voted on by Juneauites in the Aug. 21 primary and finally during the General Election, Nov. 6.
As few as three and as many as six of the members of the Assembly will be gone in October (either Gregory or Weldon could remain, but as Mayor):
Mayor Ken Koelsch – Retiring in October. He was elected during a special election in March of 2016 for a term that ends in October.
Norton Gregory – Filed for mayor, must resign his Assembly Areawide seat. He was elected in 2016, with a term ending in 2019.
Beth Weldon – Filed for mayor, must resign from her Assembly District Two seat. She was elected in 2016, with a term ending in 2019.
Jesse Kiehl – Filed for Senate, would have to resign Assembly District One seat if he wins, which would create a special election circumstance after November. He has served on the Assembly since 2011, and after taking time off due to term limits, was elected again in 2017, with a term ending in 2020.
Rob Edwardson – Filed for House District 33, would have to resign Assembly District Two seat if he wins, which would create a special election circumstance after November. He was elected onto the Assembly in 2017, with a term ending in 2020.
Jerry Nankervis – Filed for House District 33, already has announced he will not run for his District Two seat that expires in October. He has served two full terms on the Assembly.
WHO’S NORTON GREGORY?
Gregory, the youngest member of the Assembly at age 39, first ran for Assembly in 2016. He works for Tlingit and Haida Regional Housing Authority in housing services. He’s got other service in his resume: Juneau Affordable Housing Commission Board Member, and former chair (2012-2014); Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL) Board of Directors; Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies (AWARE) Board of Directors; Douglas Island Neighborhood Association Board Member; Juneau Senior Assisted Living Task Force Member.
WHO’S BETH WELDON?
Weldon, 53, worked for Capital City Fire and Rescue for 21 years, retiring as an assistant chief. She and her husband own Glacier Auto Parts. Her other service includes: JDHS Site Council, Glacier Valley Rotary member and former president. Current and former activity with Alaska State Firefighters Association Board, Juneau Ski Club Board, Aquatics Board member, and a volunteer for JDHS Wrestling, Glacier Swim Club, Aquatics Board high school track and field.
Saralyn Tabachnick has also filed for mayor. The executive director of the AWARE Shelter has lived in Juneau for 30 years.
The official filing period for the Assembly seats of Gregory, Weldon, and Nankervis, as well as for Juneau mayor is Aug. 3-13. The election is Oct. 2.