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

Few turn out for assembly training day


A new program aimed at training residents contemplating a run for Haines Borough Assembly drew little interest this week, with three members of the public attending the Monday session led by Mayor Jan Hill and clerk Julie Cozzi.

Leonard Dubber, Judy Erekson and Debra Schnabel turned out.

Erekson said in an interview after the meeting she was “fairly committed” to running for one of the two assembly seats up for grabs this October. “I’ve got the paperwork,” she said.

Erekson, who served on the Haines Borough school board for about seven years and currently works as the school’s bookkeeper, said she isn’t drawn to the job because of a single issue or desire to change something specific.

“I’ve considered it off and on over the years. I’m just thinking I might be able to help. It’s not like I have an issue I am trying to push,” Erekson said.

If anything, Erekson said, she would hopefully like to model better behavior. “It just seems time. I’m getting tired of the nastiness, even on the national level,” she said.

Dubber, who owns a local Laundromat with his wife, said he is considering running, though he wants to wait and see who else runs. Dubber is concerned, for example, that if incumbent George Campbell decides to run, Dubber would siphon support from Campbell’s base and split the votes to the detriment of both candidates.

“Those are all the calculations you do in these little piddly, small-town elections,” Dubber said. “I’m trying to figure out what I think is going to be best for the town.”

Dubber supports Campbell and said he wouldn’t want to damage his campaign. “He’s probably not as far right or libertarian as I am, because I never would have voted for someone to go down to Juneau to lobby for money, especially in our situation where there is no money in the state anyway. I would have voted absolutely against that,” Dubber said.

Dubber said he was disappointed by the low turnout at Monday’s training session. He was especially disheartened by the lack of young people.

“We don’t need old farts running this town. People my age shouldn’t be running this town,” Dubber said.

The training session felt like it had a lot of “propaganda,” Dubber said, which was to be expected. He especially balked at the part about assembly teamwork, which Mayor Hill described using a basketball analogy.

“If you have one guy who takes the ball and never passes it and dribbles to the other end and makes a shot all the time, he isn’t playing as a team,” Hill said. “I think if we have one elected assembly member who is constantly on their own tangent, things aren’t going to get done. And when that person needs an assist somewhere later in the game, that assist won’t be there.”

Hill also stressed the significance of assembly members supporting the entire group’s action, as opposed to working against it or bashing it.

“As soon as the assembly has voted and passed a motion, your job then becomes to support that action. Your opinion – your position – on that is still within you, but your job then is not to go out and undermine the decision of your assembly,” Hill said.

Dubber said he couldn’t get behind that idea. “Not me. I would be working against anything I thought that was wrong,” he said.

Schnabel, who served on the assembly in the past, said she attended the session to see how the administration would approach the issue of “training” potential assembly candidates.

“Generally speaking, I thought it was well put together,” Schnabel said.

Schnabel wouldn’t say whether she’s running. “It will have to get much closer to the deadline before I ever really think seriously about it,” she said.

The candidate filing period is open Monday through Aug. 19.

Also at the session, Cozzi and Hill spoke about constituent expectations, the relationship between the assembly and the manager, time commitment, media coverage and conflicts of interest.

Cozzi put together a 13-page booklet for residents entertaining the idea of running, which will be posted on the borough website.


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