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

Rogers only filer for two assembly seats

Prisciandaro moves to Vermont


August 15, 2019

With less than one week before the filing deadline, Paul Rogers is the only candidate registered to run for one of two open seats on the Haines Borough Assembly.

At a training for potential candidates on Monday, five other residents attended, though none have filed as of press time Wednesday.

Diana Lapham, Sally McGuire, Zepher Sincerny and Steven Auch are also considering running for a seat.

McGuire told the CVN on Wednesday she won’t be running because it “seemed like there were a good pool of candidates.”

Lapham said she’s not sure yet where she’ll be most effective: as an assembly member, or serving on the three committees she’s currently a member of. Auch said he’s deciding whether or not he’ll be able to commit the time.

In October, assembly members Tom Morphet and Heather Lende will complete their three-year stints on the assembly, and say they will not seek reelection.

Rogers lost by two votes in last year’s municipal elections to assembly member Sean Maidy.

Big questions in front of the assembly are re-examining policing outside the service area and dealing with the effects of a capital budget that don’t account for impending state budget cuts.

If elected, Rogers said he would petition to cut borough spending, oppose a charter change for policing outside of the service area and prioritize essential services.

In the wake of more than $220 million in statewide funding cuts, Rogers said the borough needs to evaluate its spending. Additional cuts are still pending Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s final review.

Dunleavy has yet to sign a bill that will determine whether or not the Haines Borough has to pay $450,336 toward its school bond debt, a program normally 70 percent subsidized by the state. The borough assembly is also discussing consolidating vacant jobs to save money.

“At some point in time we have to wake up and recognize that things aren’t getting a whole lot better,” Rogers said. “I’m not sure we should be funding charities at the same levels if we can’t afford our bills and we can’t afford to make ends meet.”

He said services that should be maintained are schools, public safety and infrastructure.

“I think that the government tends not to listen to the citizens in the borough,” Rogers said. “One issue comes to my mind and that is the policing one. They just don’t get it.”

In October, out-of-town voters widely opposed a hike in property taxes to pay for police services in their neighborhood.

“The citizens who live outside of the townsite have spoken very clearly,” Rogers said. He also disagrees with assembly member Maidy’s claims that a charter change is not linked to increasing costs.

In August, Maidy said at an assembly meeting that a charter change is “not about money.”

“You cannot increase the services you’re going to provide without increasing the size and cost of the department,” Rogers said.

Prior to retiring to Haines in 2014, Rogers worked as a lieutenant officer and a 911 director for a countywide emergency dispatch in Michigan.

Candidates can file to run for assembly with the borough clerk until Tuesday at 5 p.m.

After that, qualified Haines residents can still file as a write-in candidate up to five days before Oct. 1 elections by writing a letter of intent to the borough clerk.

If there are not enough candidates on the ballot to fill the two seats, the assembly may appoint a qualified person to serve until the next regular election, according to code.

To qualify as a candidate, a person must be a U.S citizen, 18 years or older, and be a resident of the borough for at least 30 days before elections.

Will Prisciandaro moves away

The assembly will need to address the question of whether it should declare a vacant seat after assembly member Will Prisciandaro this week relocated to Vermont to be with his family.

He told the CVN he intends to serve telephonically on the borough assembly for the two-year duration of his term. He said he will travel back to Haines for fishing season, and that he does not intend to sell his home or officially change residency.

According to code, the assembly can declare a seat vacant if a member “is physically absent from the borough for 90 consecutive days unless excused by the assembly”, or “no longer physically resides in the borough and the assembly by two-thirds vote declares the seat vacant.”

“I believe that’s very inappropriate,” assembly member Brenda Josephson said. “In order to serve the community, you’ve got to be a member of the community. Right now, we have the opportunity to get a third seat on the ballot. That’s what should happen.”

Assembly member Stephanie Scott said she thinks it will be “awkward” for Prisciandaro to serve remotely.

“I guess we’ll have to talk about it as a group and see,” she said.

Assembly memberSean Maidy was not available for comment by press time.

“Unless and until (Prisciandaro) doesn’t show up or an assembly member raise the issues, there is no issue,” Borough clerk Alekka Fullerton said.


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