Juneau voters to put 3 freshmen into Legislature
More than a dozen new faces could be sworn into the Legislature next January, and one thing is certain about the incoming freshman: at least three will come from Juneau, giving the capital city its first wholesale turnover in decades.
That’s because Democratic House Reps. Sam Kito III and Justin Parish will not run again, nor will Sen. Dennis Egan, a Democrat who served 10 years, including a stint on the power Senate Finance Committee.
Looking to succeed Egan are a long-time labor lobbyist and a veteran legislative aide. In the House races a former Juneau police captain, five-time school board member, a retired teacher and a labor organizer are vying for respective seats in two-way races.
Juneau Assemblyman Jesse Kiehl, a Democrat, wants Egan's seat. He worked for Sens. Kim Elton and then successor Egan, but stepped down as an 18-year aide in May to pursue his candidacy. He’ll face another familiar face in the Capitol halls lobbyist Don Etheridge, an Independent, who also had a stint on Juneau's Assembly.
Independent labor organizer Chris Dimond is squaring off against Democratic challenger Sara Hannan in the downtown Juneau district that also includes other Southeast communities Haines, Klukwan, Gustavus and Skagway.
Jerry Nankervis, a retired police captain, who also served two years as Juneau’s deputy mayor, and Andi Story, a 15-year school board member are vying for the other Juneau House seat.
Former House Rep. Cathy Munoz, a Republican, held that seat for eight years before being upset by Democrat Parish. She says one-party representation, which Juneau had for these last two years, is not conducive for Juneau.
“I think it’s important that we have a balanced delegation, not all of one party,” she said. “I think that tends to be harmful for the capital city in our role as kind of ambassador to the rest of the state.”
Beth Kerttula, a former Democratic House Minority Leader, said she would like for whoever gets elected to be unafraid to shed party loyalty as U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski did by voting against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
“I think we all need to take a page from Lisa and remember we are here for the better good,” Kerttula said. “We are not here to the party. We’re not here for personal gain. We’re not here to be bitter partisans. We want to work for the state of Alaska. If they keep that in mind, I think they’ll do fine.”
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