Ten Sealaska shareholders are challenging four incumbents for the regional Native corporation’s board of directors. That’s the largest number of independent candidates in five years, although some earlier ballots came close.
Proxy statements, which include ballots, were sent to Sealaska shareholders May 10th. Voting runs through June 20th, just before the corporation’s annual meeting, which is June 22th, in Hoonah.
They can be mailed, faxed or dropped off in person. Ballots can also be cast at the annual meeting.
Corporate Secretary Nicole Hallingstad said online voting has become increasingly popular.
“The first year of online voting, about 11 percent of our shareholders voted online. The second year that rose just a little bit to 13 percent,” she said. “We’re early in the proxy process, so it’s impossible at this point to say where that final percentage will fall. But higher levels than that have already come in through online voting for this year’s proxy season.”
This year’s online voting is done through a new shareholder-information system called “My Sealaska.” The secure site also includes stock information and dividend payment history.
No resolutions are on this year’s ballot. Prior years’ measures addressed term limits, discretionary voting and stock for shareholder descendants.
Tribal members can vote a specific number of shares for up to four candidates they support. Or they can vote “discretionary,” turning their ballots over to the board, which supports its own members.
Most of this year’s 14 board candidates are in their 50s, 60s or 70s. But three are between 30 and 40.
Hallingstad, also vice president of communications, says that includes Ralph Wolfe. He was last year’s appointed youth representative on the Sealaska board.
“This year’s slate does include some of our younger shareholders and it’s great to see that successive generations of shareholders for Sealaska are seeing this as a mechanism to serve the Native community,” Hallingstad said.
Sealaska added several thousand younger shareholder descendants after a 2007 vote.
The regional Native corporation is headquartered in Juneau and has more than 21,000 shareholders. Most are of Tlingit, Haida or Tsimshian descent. Close to half live in Southeast.
This year’s independent candidates are:
• Mick Beasley, Myrna Gardner and Ernestine Hayes of Juneau.
• Frank Jack III of Angoon.
• Angela Michaud of Anchorage.
• Ralph Wolfe of Yakutat.
• Will Micklin of Alpine, California.
• Edward Sarabia Jr. of South Glastonbury, Connecticut.
• Richard “Jack” Strong of Bonney Lake, Washington.
• And Bonnie Jo Borchick of Tucson, Arizona.
This year’s board incumbents are:
• Patrick Anderson of Anchorage
• Jodi Mitchell of Juneau.
• Jackie Johnson Pata of Fairfax, Virginia.
• And Richard Rinehart Jr. of Bellevue, Washington.
Board members serve three-year terms.