Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Friedenauer quits assembly, cites bullying, vitriol


Haines Borough Assembly member Margaret Friedenauer resigned her assembly seat Wednesday, citing bitterness, cynicism and a lost desire to lead.

Krista Kielsmeier, executive assistant to the borough manager, also resigned Wednesday.

Friedenauer penned a letter to the assembly and Mayor Jan Hill stating her resignation, effective immediately.

“I have unfortunately strayed from focusing on issues and spend too much time now focused on personalities. I have become increasingly disrespectful to my fellow assembly members. I no longer feel effective,” she wrote.

“I sense no leadership or willingness to help the assembly from the Mayor. I find myself becoming bitter toward many in the community. I don’t love this town enough to overlook the contention, the bullying and the vitriol. Many, including the Mayor, believe the assembly is the root of this problem and won’t share any responsibility. While I believe the six of us assembly members share as much responsibility as anybody in creating the current climate, we can’t fix it alone,” she said.

Friedenauer said she did not resign because of the recall effort or the hiring of Debra Schnabel as borough manager, though she disagreed with both actions.

At the start of her letter, Friendenauer referenced the seven candidates who vied for Mike Case’s open assembly seat after he resigned in early May. “I envy the energy many of those candidates expressed for serving on the assembly. I am now completely void of any moxie for the job.”

Friedenauer was elected to the assembly in October 2015, resigning a year short of finishing her three-year term.

Haines Borough executive assistant to the manager Krista Kielsmeier also resigned Wednesday.

Kielsmeier cited her time working as a journalist covering municipal government and other board meetings. She worked as a reporter at the Chilkat Valley News from October 2010 to July 2012.

“During my time attending public meetings, there have been countless differences of opinion but, until recently, I have not witnessed an elected body willfully doing actions that are objectively wrong,” she wrote in her resignation letter. “I have been very vocal in my opposition to these actions, to the point where I believe future concerns I express would not be seen as credible by the public or the media.”

Kielsmeier has been outspoken in her criticism of the assembly’s hire of Schnabel, who she maintains wasn’t as qualified as interim manager Brad Ryan. She published a half-page paid commentary earlier this month in the CVN criticizing the local media’s coverage of the issue.

She said she plans to leave Haines permanently, but set no timeline.

Former assembly member Mike Case also resigned last month after the assembly hired Schnabel.

Case criticized the assembly for conducting borough staff interviews, many of whom supported Ryan, but not taking their feedback. He described the hire as a “set-up job,” in a KHNS story.

Friedenauer’s resignation leaves an open seat on the assembly that will need to be filled until the October municipal election.

The assembly appointed former Mayor Stephanie Scott Tuesday evening to Case’s empty seat. Six others applied for the appointment.


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