More Ketchikan residents this week have declared their intent to run for municipal office. There are three 3-year seats open on the Ketchikan City Council. Those are currently held by Riley Gass, Abby Bradberry and Jack Finnegan. KRBD was unable to reach Gass or Bradberry for comment on whether or not they planned to run.

Finnegan, who was elected last year to fill a one-year term on the council, filed for reelection on Wednesday. He says he’s learned a lot over the past year and would like to continue to serve. Finnegan says something he brings to the table is his listening skills.

“I don’t have a rigid ideology. Of course I have my viewpoints and my values. But I work hard to listen carefully to those who might view things differently than I, because I really believe that meeting in the middle or finding methods of compromise can often be the best way to work in the city’s best interests overall.”

Finnegan is the education coordinator for the community theater organization, First City Players and a charter fishing captain for Baranof Excursions. Finnegan says one of his priorities if elected would be addressing homelessness and its impacts on the community.

“There’s been a lot of work done already and I’ve been really grateful for some of the conversations I’ve had with people working in the field of the homeless. And I’d really like to find some good methods for Ketchikan to advance on that issue because it’s been a challenging one and it’s not going to go away anytime soon.

Also declaring her candidacy for City Council is Judy Zenge. She’s the operations manager of the Ketchikan Plaza. Zenge previously served on the City Council from 2013 to 2022. She did not run for reelection last year. Zenge says after nine years she felt she needed a break to reflect and take care of personal business. She says she’s ready to come back, and feels the council needs to take a different direction.

“Talking and dealing with a bunch of things that maybe aren’t as important as some of the other things I feel are important like our infrastructure, our homelessness issues, tourism. Those are things I things that I think we need to get a better handle on.”

Zenge didn’t specify which issues she felt were less important, but for months, the focus of several council meetings has been on the fate of a controversial graphic novel on teens and sex in the Ketchikan Public Library collection. The council ultimately voted to have the book moved from the teen section to the adult section of the City-owned library.

Zenge says she’d like to see the council leave decisions up to the city staff.

“Our employees are the manager and the attorney and the clerk. And I think if we have issues with other areas we need to take it to them and have them bring us back the information and then make a decision from there. I just feel we’ve gotten off the rails there a little bit.”        

Also filing to run for City Council is Robb Arnold. In an email to KRBD, Arnold says his first priority if elected is to see that roads are repaired. He says he’d also like to address affordable homes for workers, and the drug and alcohol crisis in the city. Arnold is a chief purser for the Alaska Marine Highway System.

Arnold also declared his candidacy for Ketchikan School Board.

There are two 3-year seats open on the school board. Those seats are currently held by Diane Gubatayao and Paul Robbins, Jr.  Gubatayao in an email to KRBD indicated that she hasn’t decided yet if she will run again. Robbins, Jr. filed for Ketchikan Borough Assembly.

Arnold is the only candidate to file for school board so far. In his written statement he notes his number one priority if elected is fiscal transparency and says an outside audit should be conducted. Arnold also wants to see test scores improve and a focus on improving the basics, especially reading. Arnold ran unsuccessfully for a spot on the school board last year.

There are three 3-year seats open on the Borough Assembly. Those seats are held by Jeremy Bynum, Judith McQuerry and A.J. Pierce.  Pierce is unable to run because of term limits.

Bynum filed to run again. In an email to KRBD, McQuerry indicated she does not intend to run for another term.

Also running for Borough Assembly is Sharli Arntzen. KRBD featured Artzen in an earlier story. Her priorities include housing and the borough budget.

As of 1:30pm Friday, no additional candidates filed for office.

The filing deadline for both city and borough offices is 5 pm on Friday, August 25. Municipal elections are on October 3.

KRBD plans to speak with other candidates as the election season progresses.