A west Anchorage Assembly member plans to leave his seat later this month, citing concerns about his health.

Tim Steele announced Wednesday that he will leave the body, where he has served alongside fellow west Anchorage member Eric Croft.

“It’s a medical issue that’s happened now, is the main reason. And, I’m one not to let things just go. I’ve got to go deal with it. So, that’s what I’m going to do,” Steele said Wednesday.

Steele said he wanted to spend more time with family in California. He got into public service following his wife's death.

He said he had been lucky to serve with some great people and some great mayors.

Steele, a former Anchorage School Board member, has held an assembly seat since 2013. He replaced Harriet Drummond for a partial term after she was elected to the state House in 2013, then won election and re-election in 2014 and 2017, respectively.

Steele had hoped to serve out the rest of his current term, but he says "it's time" due to his family concerns.

In a statement, Steele thanked the people of Anchorage who have helped him along his path.

“Though I cannot be there to do so myself, I urge my colleagues to continue fighting for education, public safety, fiscal responsibility, and a shared sense of community,” Steele wrote. “I hope that they will continue to uphold the trust the voters have placed in them, and to guide the city with integrity and understanding.”

Now, the search is on to find Steele’s replacement. Already, at least one of his neighbors is stepping up in hopes of taking the seat. Austin Quinn-Davidson said Wednesday to say she’s making a bid for the position.

“It had been on my mind, and I had talked with people about service and what it involves, and you know, what the job's like and how many hours a week and all of those details. So, I feel like I have a good understanding of what the job is,” Quinn-Davidson said. “It's exciting but, you know, a little surprising. This isn't exactly how I'd expected it rolling out.”

It’s up to Anchorage Assembly members to figure out how to proceed. The city has 60 days to put together a special election with its new vote-by-mail system. In this case, only voters in Steele's district will get a ballot.

In the meantime, the assembly could appoint a replacement.

“The code says that we can, we don't have to,” said Forrest Dunbar, chair of the assembly.

Dunbar says that decision will be up for a vote at next week’s meeting.

“We have had a couple of people reach out and say that they would serve in an interim capacity. I think there won't be a shortage of applicants if we do go forward with that kind of process. I think one thing that I personally want is whoever is appointed in the interim will not be running in that special election because we don't want to give anyone a leg up, if you will,” Dunbar said.

For his part, Steele says he's not endorsing anyone.

Of Quinn-Davidson, he said, “She’s smart, she seems motivated. So, I'm sure she'll be in the mix.”

As for the two-tour Vietnam vet, he says his future will always include Anchorage.

"I’m not going anywhere, I'll be here. You know, I might go outside for a while, but this is home,” Steele said.

According to Dunbar, there are nearly two years left in Steele’s term. Whoever is elected to replace him, through the special election, will serve the remainder of his term.

Chris Klint and Scott Jensen contributed information to this story.

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