3 Democrats claim strong leads in Juneau races
Three Juneau Democrats are staving off challenges from two independents and a Republican as the capital city prepares for wholesale change to its state delegation.
Jesse Kiehl, a former long-time aide to retiring Sen. Dennis Egan and former Sen. Kim Elton, has held off independent Don Etheridge 23-point lead; Sarah Hannan also held off an independent, Chris Dimond, with an 11-point advantage. Andy Story kept Republicans from getting their only candidate to a Juneau seat with a 15-point victory over Jerry Nankervis.
Results are targeted for certification Nov. 23.
The rare turnover in capital city was imminent with all three Democratic delegation members announcing their intent to step down prier to session ending in mid-May.
Sen. Dennis Egan was the first to announce his retirement plans after serving 10 years in the Capitol, including a stint on the Senate Finance Committee while a member of the majority. House Rep. Justin Parish said he would not seek a second term just before news of a harassment complaint broke. Sam Kito III, unhappy that only Juneau lawmakers would no longer receive a per diem, also announced his plans to step down.
Former House Rep. Cathy Munoz, a Republican, held Parish’s seat for eight years before being upset two years ago. Prior to the election, she said one-party representation, which Juneau had for these last two years, is not conducive for the Southeast coastal community.
“It’s important that we have a balanced delegation, not all 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 prior to the election that whomever voters selected should not be afraid 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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