July 19, 2012 | Volume 42, No. 29

Filing deadline Friday for 2 assembly, 4 school seats

Two seats on the Haines Borough Assembly and four of seven seats on the borough school board will be decided in the municipal election Oct. 2.

The candidate filing period opened July 9 and ends July 27.

Borough voters also will be asked if they want to relax financial reporting requirements for elected and appointed officials.

Assemblywoman Joanne Waterman, who has served one, three-year term, had no comment this week on her plans. “I have not filed yet. No comment. I have no comment at this time,” she said.

Assembly member Daymond Hoffman said he’s not sure if he’ll run again, but is leaning toward not running. “I haven’t really figured it out…At this point I don’t think I’m going to run again.” He would step away to have more time for family obligations and work, he said. “I need to pay attention to my home life a little more.”

Borough Mayor Stephanie Scott said she hopes people take an interest in the election. A paucity of school board candidates last year was particularly “scary,” Scott said. “I’d like to see people running.” The months leading up to election are “a great time for community conversation. It’s exciting.”

The four school board seats to be filled include two with full, three-year terms, one seat with two years remaining in its term and one seat with one year remaining.

School board president and board member Carol Kelly said this week she won’t run this year. “I’ve done nine years. That’s enough. I’m retired. It’s time to step down and let somebody younger do it,” she said.

“I’m very proud of what’s been accomplished in the last 10 years” by the school board, Kelly said. Since it became an independent board in 2002, it’s come a long way, she said, and she feels good leaving it. “It’s in good order now.”

Kelly has served as board president eight years. The board will decide on a new president during its organizational meeting in mid-October.

Member Sean Cone is vacating a seat one year before his term is up because his family is moving to Juneau next month for his wife’s work, he said. Cone said he’s glad he had a chance to serve as a member and that he learned a lot. “It was quite productive.”

Cone was proud of being a “perennial skeptic” and “steadfast advocate for a more robust career and technical education program.” He added that it’s important to keep activities funds available for academic programs. “It seems like the sports teams get most of that money.”

School is primarily for academics, he said. “We need to put our money where our mouth is.” He noted the importance of programs such as History Day. “I would like to encourage our school to do more programs like that.”

Board member Nelle Jurgeleit-Greene also is not seeking re-election, she said, because she will be out of state taking care of family for much of the winter. “It wouldn’t be the right thing to do (as a board member) to be out that much.” She said that perhaps she’ll run next year if there’s a seat open. “I love being on the board. I like trying to make a difference. I think we have a great school…with great programs. I couldn’t speak any more highly of it.”

Board member Brenda Jones said she will run for election. She was appointed to fill a vacancy created when no one filed for a board seat open in last fall’s election. “I’ve enjoyed my service on the school board and I’m looking forward to continuing to serve.”

Jones said she’s not surprised more people don’t show interest in serving. The current financial disclosure requirement is the biggest challenge to recruiting new members, she said, but there are others.

“It’s hard to step up to public service. You’ve got to research the issues. You can’t just show up at public meetings. I think we need to treat our public servants better,” Jones said.

Chilkat Valley Preschool president and CVN columnist Sara Chapell this week said she’d seek a school board seat.

Kelly said she’d like to see more interest in serving on the board, particularly from parents and those with a “vested interest…in the well-being of the students and the school.” The number of candidates has been decreasing over the years, she said. She noted that most of the current board members have run unopposed. Last year a seat was filled by appointment.

Kelly attributes the lack of candidates to “things running smoothly” and to state financial reporting requirements. As opposed to a controversial board, which typically generates more interest, everything’s going smoothly, Kelly said.

The purpose of the requirement for candidates to report their personal finances is to instill confidence in public officials, but a lot of people who would otherwise run are not doing so, Kelly said.