Resident Rob Miller has withdrawn from the race for a seat on the Haines Borough Assembly, leaving George Campbell and write-in Mario Benassi as the only two candidates for as many seats.
Miller said he recently learned he would need to take two, two-month absences for medical reasons in addition to a planned three-month absence this winter, effectively eliminating seven months of the time he’d be in office.
He initially planned to mitigate the three-month absence by attending meetings telephonically, but the additional time off for surgery made the plan unrealistic, Miller said.
“Although the surgeries are not serious (for the curious, they are bunion and toe realignment surgery on both feet), my doctor recently informed me that they should not be delayed for three years and that they should occur as soon as I can make space in my life. This development basically means that I would be a nine-month-per-year assembly member,” Miller wrote in a letter.
Benassi’s emergence as a write-in candidate made Miller’s decision easier, he said. “With two qualified candidates who have the time to devote to the task, I feel that I should withdraw. The voters of Haines deserve an assembly member who can be physically present and available during the term of the office.”
According to deputy clerk Michelle Webb, the last day for candidate withdrawal was Aug. 20, so Miller’s name will remain on the ballot.
While the pool of potential assembly candidates has shrunk, another candidate has thrown her hat into the ring for school board.
Kim Larson, a 16-year Haines resident, is running as a write-in candidate because she was vacationing in the Lower 48 during candidate registration. Larson, a licensed daycare provider who has run the Kids R Fun daycare center for 15 years, said she wants to ensure the board prioritizes students before everything else.
“I just want to make sure the kids are actually first and they are getting the number one best education... I’m hoping to make it more of a priority. I want it to be about what the kids need,” she said.
Scott Doddridge, Lisa Schwartz, Ardy Miller and Sarah Swinton also are running for three school board seats.
The recent change in election procedures from a seat system to roster-style ballot encouraged her to run this year, Larson said. “I didn’t want to pick a seat for who I ran against. This way you have five people running for three seats and hopefully the top three people who get the most votes will do a good job.”
Larson said her experience with other boards and organizations, including the Southeast Alaska State Fair, Venturer Scouts, Haines Sportsman’s Association, and King Salmon Derby, show she has a proven ability to work with others.
If elected, Larson said she will bring several issues to the school board’s attention, including the amount of physical education time allotted for middle school students and the lack of funding for winners of events like History Day and the spelling bee to travel to statewide or national competitions.
Drug use in the high school is also of concern to Larson. “I don’t want that in the schools,” she said.
Larson has two children, one graduated from high school in 2009 and the other is a sophomore this year.
“If someone has a concern, they can come to me and I’ll bring it to the school board and see what we can do,” she said.