Katie Parrott. (Courtesy of Parrott)

Ketchikan Gateway Borough mayoral candidate Katie Parrott says she’s submitted her resignation after four years as the top finance official at Ketchikan’s school district.

“There were a variety of factors, but it just seemed like at this point in time, it was the right thing to do for myself and my family and the district and the community,” Parrott said in a phone interview Friday afternoon.

Ketchikan Superintendent Michael Robbins said in a text message that he has accepted Parrott’s resignation from her position as the school district’s business manager. He thanked her for her service to the district.

“Katie did a great job for our school district and our students,” Robbins said in a text message. “She will be missed.”

Her opponent in the mayor’s race, Rodney Dial, has made Parrott’s position with the school district a campaign issue. Dial has said the borough’s conflict of interest code would require Parrott to recuse herself from important discussions about Ketchikan’s school district if elected. 

Though Ketchikan’s school district is partially funded by the borough, school district employees are explicitly allowed by borough code to seek elected office. The code also requires elected officials to recuse themselves from discussions and votes that could benefit them or an organization to which they owe loyalty. 

Parrott says the campaign played a role in her decision — she says didn’t want to wait until after the election to announce the news.

“Is the mayoral campaign the primary reason? No,” she said. “Does the timeline, is it impacted by the potential of the mayoral race and the timeline of making the decision? I would say yes. And I think I’m just trying to do what’s best for me and my family.”

She declined to go into detail about what circumstances outside of the campaign led her to quit.

“You know, this has been a big year, and there’s lots going on, and, you know, I think I think it was just time,” she said.

In phone interviews, Dial said Parrott’s resignation did not take him by surprise. He said he’d heard from trusted confidants that Parrott planned to resign well in advance.

“She actually indicated to several people in the community weeks ago that she was going to do it. I find it disappointing that if she knew she was going to do it, she wouldn’t just do it at the beginning and kind of avoid some of the controversy,” he said. “But you know, I can also understand her waiting until the end to, you know, try to get free press time — kind of what she’s doing right now.”

He described the timing of the announcement as “shady” and “an October surprise” in a now-deleted Facebook comment responding to an earlier version of this story. Dial said he would have spent his campaign funds differently if Parrott had announced her decision sooner. 

“In one way, this forced me to use my own campaign funds to get a legal determination for a conflict that everybody knew existed,” he said in an interview.

Dial’s campaign released a legal opinion from a law firm in Fairbanks in early September saying her school district job might be “incompatible” with the role of mayor. Dial’s campaign spent $325 on the opinion, according to state records. His campaign had raised about $12,300 as of Sept. 26

Parrott’s campaign income and expense records are not available online — she registered as an exempt candidate, saying she didn’t plan to spend or raise more than $5,000, and is not required to file campaign finance reports.

At a Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce forum on Sept. 21, Dial devoted considerable time to the conflicts he saw between Parrott’s day job and the job of the mayor. In response, Parrott hinted at the forum that she was “willing to make a change if that’s what the community wants,” but did not elaborate or answer follow-up questions about the statement.

Parrott says she didn’t make her final decision until the week of Sept. 25. She says she told her superiors at the school district about her plans to quit on Monday.

“And there was a request that I spend some time to think about it,” she said. “And so that’s what I did.”

Parrott says she’ll stay on as the district looks for a successor.

“We are working closely together probably early next week to identify a timeline and a transition timeframe that’s realistic for the district. My duties are pretty — there’s a breadth and depth to them that I think is unique to the position,” she said.

Parrott says she’s not sure what the future holds for her. She says she does not have another job lined up and plans to speak with her family soon about what’s next.

“Serving the district and serving the community and the staff and parents and students really, truly has been one of the greatest honors of my life,” she said. “It’s been intensely challenging at times, but always rewarding, and I owe a debt of gratitude to all of the staff and my colleagues for their support and everything that I learned,” she said.

Parrott says her decision is final — even if she loses Tuesday’s municipal election.

Early voting is underway now, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the city clerk’s office in Ketchikan City Hall at 334 Front St. and the borough clerk’s office in the White Cliff Building at 1900 First Avenue. Election day is Oct. 4.

This story has been updated throughout.

Contact reporter Eric Stone at 907-225-9655 or eric@krbd.org.