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

Race for borough assembly swells to 6 candidates


Three new candidates will vie for two open seats on the Haines Borough Assembly alongside incumbent Diana Lapham and challengers Judy Erekson and Heather Lende, who already filed.

Chilkat Valley News publisher Tom Morphet, commercial fisherman Ryan Cook and Moose Horn Laundry owner Leonard Dubber filed their candidacy paperwork with the borough before Friday’s 5 p.m. deadline and as of Monday evening had been certified to run in the Oct. 4 municipal election.

Borough assembly member George Campbell did not file for another three-year term. Lapham, who is seeking re-election, currently serves as deputy Mayor.

Morphet, 54, has lived in Haines for 30 years. He said he decided to run for office because he’s been dissatisfied with a lot of assembly decisions over the years. For example, Morphet said he disagreed with the move to demolish the old middle school gym, which might have been converted into a recreation center. He said he’s also concerned about the borough’s $500,000 budget deficit.

“I’d like to have the borough spend its time proportionally on the big issues and not get wrapped around the axle on things like security at the office,” Morphet said.

He said that other candidates on the ballot would not likely raise the same issues he cares about, which factored into his last-minute decision to file for the election.

Cook, 38, works as a commercial fisherman and has lived in Haines his entire life. Cook said he wants to better the community for year-round residents, not just tourists or those who stay for only part of the year.

He said he’s also running for the assembly because he’s watched a lot of things happen in town that he doesn’t agree with. He said his top priority is Haines Harbor expansion. “The people who are actually fighting it don’t even own a boat,” Cook said.

He said parking now is extremely limited, and people who don’t use the harbor regularly may not see the problems that boat owners deal with on a daily basis. An expanded harbor may allow larger vessels to stop at the Small Boat Harbor and add money to the economy, he said.

Cook also serves on the Upper Lynn Canal Fish and Game Advisory Committee and is the president of Lynn Canal Gillnetters Association.

Dubber, 69, has lived in Haines since April 2001 and would like to see the assembly become a more active governing body. “If someone brings an issue to the city, they make a committee or turn it over to someone else,” Dubber said. “They don’t tend to like to make decisions.”

Dubber said each time the assembly spends money on a “boondoggle” it affects the future of the borough. He said he doesn’t see any value in focusing time and money on things like the helicopter noise study or applying for grants that are not going to benefit the entire community.

The municipal election is set for Tuesday, Oct. 4.


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