Assembly, School Board seats up for election on Oct. 2

Municipal elections for Skagway are coming up on Oct. 2, with two open seats for both the Skagway School Board and the Borough Assembly.

Candidates John Hischer (incumbent) and Alanna Lawson (write-in) are running for the two School Board seats. Steve Burnham Jr., Roger  W. Griffin and Jay L. Burnham are running for the two assembly seats. School Board and assembly are both three-year terms. In addition to the candidates, a question for voters will be on the ballot, asking for public opinion on a Recreation Center expansion and a possible pool/aquatic wellness center component as a part of that expansion.

Assembly selects three borough manager candidates to move forward in hiring process

Alaska Legislature Rep. Sam Kito III was one of three candidates advanced by the Borough Assembly for the vacant borough manager position at a Sept. 20 meeting.

David Milliron, Jack Ardaugh and Kito were the three moved forward by the Borough Manager Search Committee

“I understand that one additional candidate has submitted and so as the process is still open, we’ll wait until we get a few [more], we’ll schedule another meeting and we’ll sort through those, but we’ll continue trying to keep the schedule and move with the process,” Assembly Member David Brena said.

Ardaugh has worked in government, municipal and non-profit roles, as well as the private sector. He’s served as an attorney at a Chicago law firm since 2011, and had previously been managing partner of the firm Spesia, Ayers & Ardaugh from 1994-2010.

Kito is finishing his term in the Alaska State Legislature. He’s currently serving in the District 33 seat at the House of Representatives, which covers the Skagway area. He currently owns KCS, LLC – which provides engineering and technical consulting services – and has worked as the facilities manager for the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.

Milliron currently is the city manager for Hogansville Georgia, a town of 3,200. He also serves double-duty as public works and utility director. Before that, he was city manager at Villa Rica, Georgia for two years, and held the same position at Stockbridge, Georgia before that.

“We have three pretty strong candidates in front of us right now I think,” Brena said on Sept. 20. The municipality is following the hiring timetable set forth by the assembly; following the assembly pushing forward with the three candidates, application packets including background checks will be sent out, with the assembly planning to review them by Oct. 2. Following that, the assembly or subcommittee will hold video/phone interviews and select candidates for public, in-person interviews.

Borough Managers to work on parking lot lease

The White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad has offered to lease the empty property on First Avenue to Skagway to accommodate needs for downtown parking, and at its Sept. 20 meeting, the Borough Assembly gave the co-borough managers the thumbs-up to negotiate a deal with the railroad. Assembly Member Orion Hanson said the proposal would “definitely help with our downtown parking problem.”

The vote passed 5-0, with Assembly Member Dan Henry absent.

Assembly assigns representatives to Ore Basin remediation working group

Assembly Member David Brena has been selected, alongside Borough Attorney Bob Blasco and lobbyist John Walsh, to participate in a working group with the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad regarding cleanup in the Ore Terminal Basin.

This came in response to a request from the railroad for various waterfront stakeholders to meet and strategize in the wake of a Sept. 5 meeting with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC), which was over the same topic.

ADEC sent a letter to White Pass on Sept. 14, announcing it had reviewed a risk assessment funded by the railroad, and asked for additional site work to be completed by Dec. 14.

“There are several potential options that will move this site forward towards closure and ensure that human health and the environment are protected,” ADEC Project Manager Kara Kusche wrote in the letter. “It is up to the responsible parties to select and propose a plan for work, however, ADEC is happy to discuss potential paths forward should that be helpful.

“ADEC encourages the responsible parties and stakeholders to work cooperatively in selecting a next step for work and proposing that work in the upcoming work plan submittal to ADEC.”

In a previous interview with The Skagway News, Kusche had said no matter what direction was taken by the borough, railroad and other stakeholders, more work needs to be done on the site.

Kusche had said ADEC was encouraging White Pass and Skagway to look at ways to knock out multiple projects – such as expansions of dock infrastructure and remediation – in one fell swoop as the contamination in the harbor is addressed.