Ten local candidates will be on the Oct. 2 municipal ballot, but out of all those running, only one seat is actually contested.
The City of Ketchikan mayoral race offers local voters pretty much the only choice in this year’s municipal election. There are eight other candidates running for city and borough seats, but with no challengers, each of those is guaranteed to win.
For the two open seats on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly this year, there are two candidates, incumbent Todd Phillips and former Assembly Member Jim Van Horn.
Van Horn said he decided to get back into local politics because he wanted to serve the community.
“I’ve been here 40 years. I love Ketchikan. It’s been good to me,” he said. “I’ve served on the Borough Assembly before, and I’ve served two terms on the Ketchikan City Council, so I bring a little bit of experience to the table. I served as chief of staff for Jim Elkins when he was in office in Juneau for two years, and that was quite an experience. I just want to serve my community.”
Phillips said he’s enjoyed serving on the Borough Assembly for the past four years, and he listed some accomplishments in that time, such as the new Gateway Aquatic Center that recently opened.
“So, hopefully I’ll have a continued good three years and we’ll get more projects done,” he said.
For the four open seats on the Ketchikan School Board, there are four candidates, incumbents Stephen Bradford and Michelle O’Brien, and newcomers Ralph Beardsworth and Colleen Scanlon.
O’Brien is finishing her first term on the board.
“It’s been my honor to serve for the past three years, and I decided to run again because it has been such a pleasure, and I’m very vested in our school system, having two daughters at Kayhi, and I think I have a lot more to contribute,” she said.
Bradford has served two years on the board as an appointed member.
“I have three children in the district and one who is a graduate of Kayhi, and I have three older daughters as well,” he said. “I think that one of the most important things a community can do is educate its children to be prepared for the future.”
Scanlon said she has a niece in the school system, which is partly why she wanted to get involved and serve on the board.
“I feel the only way to make positive change in the community is to get involved, so I’m getting involved,” she said.
Beardsworth is a retired teacher, and said he’s civic minded and believes in the community.
“I’ve been in education for over 30 years, and I’d like to be part of a team that going to help prepare our students for career-readiness and a global world,” he said.
City voters have a few more circles to fill in. There are two open seats on the Ketchikan City Council, and the two incumbents, DeAnn Karlson and Bob Sivertsen, are seeking re-election with no challengers.
Sivertsen said he looks forward to continuing work on city projects.
“We’re going to struggle with budget and we’re going to struggle with capital projects and bonding,” he said. “I think I have stuff to add to that and I’m proud to able to run for City Council.”
Karlson was appointed to a vacant seat last November. She said that serving for nearly a year has given her some insight into the Council’s process.
“I really felt that because I was given that opportunity, I needed to step back up and be a part of it on a long-term basis,” she said. “And I just feel it’s important to give back to the community.”
And finally, there is the city mayor seat, currently held by Lew Williams III. He’s been challenged by Lewis Armey Jr., who has run previous unsuccessful campaigns for city and borough mayor.
Williams said that if re-elected, this would be his last term as mayor.
“I’ve been doing this for several years, not only mayor but as a City Council member,” he said. “I’ve been involved for a long time. And I’ve got a couple projects and things I want to finish up in the next three years, and then it’s going to have to move on to another group of people. Hopefully a different generation, get some more younger people involved.”
Armey said he stayed away from politics for many years.
“I see now that there’s a great need for somebody that is one of the people, that’s of the people, for the people, by the people,” he said. “The way it was intended, the way it was started, and the way it should still be working. And it’s not.”
While there aren’t many contested races on Ketchikan’s Oct. 2 ballot, several of the candidates urged voters to still show up at the polls.