Candidates are listed in alphabetical order within the office.

Mayoral Candidates

Andrew Cremata

Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you chose to run for office.

I am a 26-year Skagway resident and have served two terms as mayor (the first was abbreviated). I’ve always believed that community service is a responsibility. I have been a Skagway Elks Lodge member for 22 years and served as an officer for ten of those years. I became an officer of the Alaska State Elks Association after filling every chair in the Skagway Lodge and have served in this capacity for six years. This year I am the state president. I also served as a national Elks representative for two years, overseeing operations in six Southeast Alaska lodges. I served on the Taiya Inlet Watershed Council for a decade, during which time I founded and acted as the director of the Pat Moore Memorial Game Fish Derby for seven years.

I originally ran for mayor to ensure that Skagway would own and operate its own waterfront for the first time in its long history. That goal has not changed. Skagway will be ready to operate its waterfront in March of 2023. Even a global pandemic hasn’t been able to derail this process. I am proud of the hard work and many hours put into helping Skagway navigate the pandemic, helping local businesses survive and ensuring residents had the resources to stay in Skagway. Governing is all about decision making and it’s important to trust that local leaders won’t back down during a crisis, especially an ongoing one. 

What is your interpretation of the housing situation in Skagway, both summer and winter, and what would your plans be moving forward to address the complexities?

Is Skagway a small Alaskan town with a population of 1,000 or is it the 18th most visited cruise ship destination in the world with upwards of 25,000 people in town on any given day during the tourist season? Skagway undoubtedly needs both year-round and seasonal housing but it’s important to understand the government can only do so much. 

I would like to see lots along the Dyea Road sold by lottery in the coming year. These are ideal locations for future year-round residents to build. I’ve always thought that the MOS could provide incentives to first-time Skagway home buyers and builders. How those incentives should be structured would be a great conversation for this community to have.

Seasonal housing issues are more complex. Any possible solution is going to be loved by some and hated by others. I absolutely think the MOS should seek to immediately run power and water across the bridge so that an RV park and/or a trailer park could be built. That project is going to cost millions but I’m hoping that some of the infrastructure bill money could be used to pay for the project if the bill passes Congress. 

In the meantime, we should open some of the spaces at Garden City to seasonal residents and allow campers in residential yards as we did in 2019. The MOS should also investigate code changes and incentives that allow business owners more flexibility to create quality seasonal housing. 

In order to hit the ground running when harbor operations are turned over to Skagway in 2023, what needs to happen?

The MOS needs to continue on the path we’ve maintained for the last few years. Interviews for a port director are due to commence next week. Once a port director is hired, the next step will be to develop a port governance structure. I have been meeting with the MOS attorney to discuss port governance options and I imagine there will be some robust conversation on this topic from the community. 

I believe it’s in our best interests as a community to make the transition as smooth as possible by working with companies that currently oversee Skagway Port operations. Cruise Line Agencies is one example. 

Skagway and White Pass will always have a shared destiny, so it’s also important to work together to ensure a smooth transition. Over the last few months, I feel as though the MOS and White Pass have made significant progress on some of the key issues where cooperation is necessary, including Ore Basin remediation. 

The most important thing the MOS needs to do is have an Ore Dock extension COMPLETED by March of 2023 so that Skagway has two berths capable of handling post-Panamax class ships. This will require cooperation between White Pass and the MOS and I am confident it’s going to happen. To remain a premier cruise ship destination, Skagway must be able to grow with changes in the industry. As a civil servant, I believe my greatest responsibility is to ensure EVERY Skagway business owner and resident has an opportunity to thrive financially. 

Can Skagway’s infrastructure handle the anticipated increase in tourists? What can be done to prepare for the future? 

An increase in tourists requires some significant infrastructure improvements. For example, we already need major improvements to our waste treatment facility and our incinerator. We will need more public bathrooms, better uplands facilities, and as mentioned above, dock improvements. These improvements are going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade. Our biggest challenge as local leaders will be figuring out how to prioritize projects. 

We also have to become better at moving people. When streets become cluttered, our quality of life suffers. If Skagway experiences an increase in tourists, we have to figure out better ways to route them through town, out of town and onto shore excursions. This will require planning, which is one of the responsibilities of a port director. 

Is Skagway a small Alaskan town with a population of 1,000 or is it the 18th most visited cruise ship destination in the world with upwards of 25,000 people in town on any given day during the tourist season? Trying to be both sometimes proves problematic. One of the greatest challenges is finding balance but we can all agree that tourism is likely going to be our bread and butter for many years to come. Let’s do everything we can to make sure every visitor enjoys their Skagway experience, and every resident enjoys living in this spectacular valley. 


Christy Murphy

Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you chose to run for office.

Skagway is my home and I care deeply about this community. I remember when the tank farm was operational across the Skagway River bridge, when the old school gym was turned into a rec center, the collapse of the White Pass dock in 1994 and the paving of our streets. Skagway has made improvements and pushed forward. We have also had to find a way to pay for all this — through property taxes, consumption fees, but most obviously through sales tax generated from our vibrant tourism industry. I know Skagway and I know how to properly manage and mitigate our challenges harmoniously. I want to fight for everyone to be heard respectfully.

Skagway deserves a mayor who is willing to listen to the many voices of our community objectively and fairly. Many of you feel like you have not been heard and sadly, disregarded. I am here to listen and represent you and work cooperatively towards more harmonious working relationships with our Skagway residents and businesses. I have spent the last 30 years raising three amazing children and running successful tour businesses (horseback riding, dog mushing) with my husband. It has been a challenge with many successes and some failures, but we persevered, and we developed a type of cooperative leadership that I feel would serve Skagway in a positive, productive, objective and ethical manner. I want to be your mayor.

What is your interpretation of the housing situation in Skagway, both summer and winter, and what would your plans be moving forward to address the complexities?

MOS should not be in the housing business. MOS needs to create a clear path in code for individuals, families and businesses to build high-density housing; the ability to add apartments onto existing homes, build duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes and to create larger dormitory-style housing. MOS needs to offer stimulus programs to encourage these high-density projects. This will stimulate and encourage the community to solve the problem without MOS taking future income away from our residents and businesses. Many seasonal residents are living in less-than-ideal conditions. In fact, the recent trend has been to build a “tiny home” on the back of your pick-up and sleep wherever you park, then find a place to dispose of your waste wherever you can. This will get worse with even more seasonal residents being displaced with no other living options.  

A short-term solution is to extend the moratorium on parking RVs south of 16th, while simultaneously providing flexibility in our zoning that would allow high-density, safe, clean and permitted housing for seasonal residents. Installing water and sewer north of the bridge would facilitate a new seasonal RV location near the recycling center which would be out of viewshed and quiet. If high-density housing is allowed, many houses would be put back on the market — employers may not need to own several properties for use five months a year if they could accommodate them in one condensed location. Better living conditions mean higher quality of life which means happier staff and a happier Skagway.

In order to hit the ground running when harbor operations are turned over to Skagway in 2023, what needs to happen?

If Skagway, indeed, is going to take over port operations, there needs to be a clear plan as to how to conclude a 55-year lease with White Pass. They own the docks and most of the infrastructure and will elect to remove it or sell it to the MOS — which could cost us millions of dollars. We need to supply security, services and management. What will this cost?  Litigation is the likely outcome given the MOS’s history with White Pass. Collaboratively we can avoid this fate. 

The MOS needs a solid business plan as to how to operate and manage the port — as of now there is little. It is a very complex issue. If the MOS is operating the Broadway and Ore dock, White Pass will still own the White Pass dock. That means we will be competing with White Pass for berthing and most likely abandon “historic berthing” privileges — which can complicate future itineraries for every cruise line. Skagway was once a leading cruise destination, but now we are slipping behind other communities that have worked toward a common goal.

We need to streamline negotiations with White Pass to implement a remediation plan. While we have been dragging our feet, Icy Straight Point, Ketchikan, Sitka and Juneau have all moved forward with enhanced berths. We are behind, but we still have time to clean up the Ore Basin and get the dock upgraded to berth the largest ships in 2023.

Can Skagway’s infrastructure handle the anticipated increase in tourists? What can be done to prepare for the future? 

Skagway is open for business. Period.

Due to the municipality’s lack of progress with third party negotiations on the waterfront, we sit in a very bad position with regards to accommodating the new world class vessels for 2023 as compared to other competitive ports. The good news is that with the new train schedule, the impacts on downtown Skagway have certainly decreased. We will need to address our solid waste capacity, and our septic treatment options as we grow, but we can handle these issues with proper planning — they are not an immediate roadblock.

 What we cannot do is sit, finger point and drag our feet. We are going to need to build a larger docking facility, and without a partner, it is unlikely the municipality alone can raise the estimated $180 million necessary for this desired project.  We need to keep all of our options, and potential partners, on the table and not treat them with hostility.  

School Board

John Hischer

Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you chose to run for office.

My family and I moved to Skagway in 2009. At that time, it was my wife and my one-year-old daughter.  It did not take us long after that to fall in love with Skagway and the people who live here. Since then, we have had another daughter and are glad we made Skagway our home. I have been the behavioral health clinician at the Dahl Memorial Clinic for the past 12 years, and a member of the school board for the past nine years. I enjoy spending time with my family, reading and gardening.

I chose to run for school board this year because I enjoy serving the community. I have also loved working with my fellow board members, superintendent, teachers, students and parents for the past nine years. I believe strongly in public education and the need for local control of education. It is my belief that strong public education is an essential part of our democracy and I have been honored to work with amazing people to ensure that all students of Skagway have an exceptional education.

How is Skagway serving students who might be looking at technical, labor-related and other career training programs instead of attending a university after graduation? 

I believe that ensuring students who are not attending a university after graduation are prepared for the workforce is extremely important. One way that the Skagway School District is serving those students is by the On the Job Training (OJT) programs. The district has partnered with different businesses in town to provide placements in jobs where the student gets hands-on experience and high school credit. A very exciting example of an OJT program that is in the works is a partnership between the Skagway School District and Alaska Power and Telephone (AP&T). In this program, a high school student would have the opportunity to work and get trained during part of the school day for AP&T as a vehicle maintenance technician, power system operator, power lineman  or a customer service/office administrator. In this program the student would also get paid and be able to work over the summer. If they successfully complete this training, then the student would be in a good position to be hired to an extremely well-paying job after graduation from high school. I am very excited about this partnership and hopefully there will be word soon on final approval.

  What are a few of your goals for the next five years for Skagway School?

The goals for the Skagway School that I see in the next five years are the completion of the kitchen construction, provide more OJT opportunities for students and to navigate the pandemic safely while ensuring a great learning environment.

Completing the new kitchen will be a great boost to the morale of the students and staff. I know that everyone misses the food that Dylan Healey cooked when he had a full kitchen and I hope that we get back to that soon. I am also excited about the classroom component that the kitchen will have. There are good jobs in the restaurant industry and it would be great for there to be a class for those wanting to learn more about cooking.

I also believe that expanding our OJT offerings is a worthwhile goal, I would love to see more OJT opportunities in local restaurants, construction companies, city government and other local entities. We have a lot of talented adults in the community from a variety of occupations, and I would like to see more opportunities to connect students with those individuals. There are many great paying jobs that our students can be preparing for while they are in high school.

Another important goal is to navigate the pandemic safely while ensuring our students receive enriching educational and extracurricular opportunities. Unfortunately, I believe the pandemic is going to be an important topic for the next few years. I would like the Skagway School District to grow in how we support teachers, students and parents through this ever-changing challenge. This pandemic has been the biggest challenge that public education has faced, and we need to develop policies, invest in technologies and provide professional development that address these new challenges.

 What has the pandemic taught us and what changes are likely for the future to address similar challenges?

I believe that the pandemic has taught us how important technology can be in education. I was amazed to see the teacher-created content that could be accessed instantly by students. I was also very impressed with the real-time collaboration between students over the computer that the teachers facilitated.  It was so impressive that our teachers created all of this during a crisis, and I would love to see what they could come up with after more professional development and investment in new technologies.

The pandemic has also taught us the importance of mental health in the education system. We continue to experience prolonged exposure to stress brought on by the pandemic and its impact on our economy. I believe that we need to continue to look for creative ways to incorporate mental health education within all grade levels. It is more important than ever for kids to recognize how they are feeling and learn healthy ways to cope with difficult emotions.


Jay Burnham

Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you chose to run for office.
I was born and raised in Skagway. After I graduated from Skagway Public School, in the top 10 I might add, (there were seven of us I believe) I joined the military and spent four years in the army. After the military I ended up in Los Angeles working for the movie industry in Hollywood for awhile … really (obviously behind the scenes).
Following that I returned home to Skagway, bartended in Moe’s for awhile, then went to work for White Pass in 1993. Aside from a year in Baghdad in 2005 with the Alaska National Guard, I haven’t lived anywhere else.
As far as why I choose to run for office, it may sound cliché but, to help out, to make a difference. There are many new opportunities on the horizon for Skagway, and I hope I can help be a part of steering Skagway in a direction we can all be proud of. It seems the older I get the more important things like that are.
I will add this here, if you have any questions for me please feel free to stop me in the street and ask!

What is your interpretation of the housing situation in Skagway, both summer and winter, and what would your plans be moving forward to address the complexities?

My interpretation … Difficult. I wish I had all the answers. There are things that the municipality is looking at doing to help in the short term, even if it’s only temporary. That includes allowing RVs on residential properties again, and possibly allowing some seasonal RVs back in Garden City. Longer term would be getting an RV park out at the 15 acres, even if we could not connect to city sewer and water right away, which would make land available, through some form of lottery, for homes and multiple family dwellings on 15th between State Street and Main.

In order to hit the ground running when harbor operations are turned over to Skagway in 2023, what needs to happen?
I believe the municipality will be hitting the ground running in 2023 with the steps they’ve started taking already. The municipality has already moved ahead with a tariff document that names rates, charges, rules and regulations for the Port of Skagway. I feel another key component will be the port director. They will be the one dealing with the different entities on the waterfront. They will be the one ensuring compliance with regulations and policies. I believe the hiring committee is looking at resumes this week. I am hoping Skagway will have its first port director very soon. Something else I feel needs to happen is the Ore Basin remediation. It would be nice to have that done when we assume control of our port.

Can Skagway’s infrastructure handle the anticipated increase in tourists? What can be done to prepare for the future?

 My short answer would be no. With the pandemic I believe we have a bit more time. As much as I would like to see the instant return of pre-COVID visitor numbers, I think it will take a little time to get back to that level. In that time, I think we should be moving forward with upgrades to the sewer treatment plant, public safety, such as seasonal responders and refilling our volunteer ranks and continuing to follow through with the port master plan concepts, continuing to take a serious look at traffic flow and more public bathrooms. And maybe a pool.


William Lockette, II

Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you chose to run for office.

I came to Skagway with my fiancée and my Chihuahua in 2011. I worked at Fairway Market from 2011 – 2018 as the dairy guy. Over the years I got to hear everything about Skagway’s busy nights and days, while working my job, and finding ways to keep upbeat despite life’s crushing dramas. The community of Skagway saved me back then, as it did when I got my forearm taken by an auger in 2019. Despite the differences of opinion, the insults, the gossip and the drama, there’s no other place in the world I could see ever calling home, Skagway. The surface drama hides a unity that’s hard to find in towns and cities elsewhere. The fact that no matter how many jobs we work, how much we make, how much we break ourselves mentally and physically every year, by Thanksgiving we’re eating together. Drinking together. Laughing and celebrating our four hours of daylight. Grinning in the face of a very real potential death by environment, wildlife or our own heaviness. Smiling because we survived another round of absolutely hellish bombardment by responsibility, and the tourists. It’s hard to stay here year-round. But a few of us can manage to pull it off, to find ourselves stronger and more eager to do it all over again next year. Our determination and love of community keep us sane, and safe, while everywhere else I’ve been to is falling apart. I want to repay Skagway’s kindness through more purposeful public service.

What is your interpretation of the housing situation in Skagway, both summer and winter, and what would your plans be moving forward to address the complexities? 

As we move forward, I’d like to find a way to balance out the housing. We need to have a way to house the summer workers who come up here and fall in love with our little town. That’s how I got here. My mom and sister were here from 2004 to 2012 or so, and if not for them telling me about Corrington hiring, I never would have come this far north. We have several families that have spent years in town that have to move once or twice a year, years after they came up here to stay. Which brings me to the other half of the needs, year-round housing. We need somewhere, nice, organized where working families can survive the winter should they luck out and find winter work. The Garden City RV Park could be made in to quite the asset if used properly for mitigating our needs for high density housing. I love the idea of two and three story triplexes. If we use it for that purpose, however, we need to make sure we have another way to host at least 84 motor coaches all summer, though. I remember the caravans, and how we would have to brace for them at the store with our ordering. RV folks spend a lot of money when they’re close to town and bored. They could still be accommodated out by the river, past the composting setup, but there’s no way that would be ready by 2022.

In order to hit the ground running when harbor operations are turned over to Skagway in 2023, what needs to happen? 

We have to look at leases and uses. We’re doing that now with our current assembly and Ports and Harbors. I think great care needs to be taken not to step on anybody operating on the waterfront, least of all TEMSCO.  We’re also going to have to hire/create port authority. I like the idea of a board overseeing a company who has a good deal of experience in managing a port. Not only in daily operations, but with issues when more legal know-how is involved. They can make it so we don’t have to wind up with scheduling conflicts for boats of tourists or ore, or wind up in legal battles with the multitude of three-letter agencies out there watching our waterways. The assembly should have oversight over operations since we’re going to own the docks. I also think we should be in constant contact with White Pass as the day comes closer, and after, considering they’re going to still hold the Railroad Dock, right next to the small boat harbor. There’s no reason we can’t continue to work with them on waterfront projects moving in to the future. We’re going to be here. They’re going to be here. The more we get along, the less friction will be generated as we bring the 2030 plan to life in our own unique way. The 2030 plan was drafted to provide inspiration and suggestive guidance. We can still tweak it here and there, but it’s a good plan.

Can Skagway’s infrastructure handle the anticipated increase in tourists? What can be done to prepare for the future?  

I think our infrastructure can handle the influx, but only if we gradually ramp it up. Extending utilities out over Pat Moore Bridge. Making sure we have an RV park. Expanding housing code to allow for hassle free, safe construction of affordable housing. We have a compost facility that should help with our waste and allow us an opportunity to sell it to neighboring communities. We just got an upgrade to our water/sewer system that was long overdue. Now we won’t have to smell it from 1st to 6th. That was most unpleasant. We are moving to where we need to be, but we have to keep on track with our plans from the 2030 plan and guide those changes with the approval of the populace. We need to be able to funnel record levels of tourism by 2024 at the earliest. That’s going to require some changes and evolutions. Not just of the waterfront, but of the historic district, and all of downtown. I’m hoping these changes are as small as possible downtown. Parking zones and one way traffic is a very non-destructive solution to a problem that might require more drastic changes, like no traffic and six foot walkway extensions, or just free range tourism downtown like the world’s largest flea market in St. Cloud, Florida. The train schedule shift is going to change things, and hopefully we’ll be able to see a smoother flow of traffic than just people dumping out and scattering, missing downtown.


Deb Potter

Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you chose to run for office. 

I am a 20-year resident of Skagway. Like so many others, I started as a seasonal employee but quickly became attached to this very special place. I co-owned a small business, (Sugar Mamas) for eight years on top of bartending full-time seasonally since 2001. I’ve been on the KHNS board of directors for over a decade, and have a vested, personal interest in the well-being of Skagway’s children, including the important issue of childcare for our hard-working parents. I’m proud to say that as an active member of this community, I have made an incredibly wide and diverse range of acquaintances. In January 2020, I was fortunate enough to become a homeowner, but as a 19-year renter, (and former business owner), I’m fully aware of the challenges and stresses that the housing situation in Skagway presents. 

On July 2, 2021, I was officially sworn in as an assembly member. I have been attending various meetings for over a decade as I feel it’s my duty to be an informed and participating citizen. I’m fully aware of the immense amount of work that is required to do this job properly, (spoiler alert: it’s a lot!) Skagway has given me so much, and now it’s my turn to give back. And it is my absolute honor to do so. This is a time when we need to come together and not allow ourselves to be intentionally driven apart. We have more in common than what divides us. 

What is your interpretation of the housing situation in Skagway, both summer and winter, and what would your plans be moving forward to address the complexities?

The housing situation in Skagway, like a lot of seasonal towns, is complicated. Our population traditionally nearly triples in the summertime in a valley with little or no land left to build upon. However, there are some immediate actions that can be taken until water and sewer can be installed across the bridge (at an estimated cost of $7-8 million). Specifically for 2022, I’d like to see Garden City RV Park available for seasonal housing. While I recognize the importance of independent travelers, in this current, ever-changing world of border closures and travel restrictions, we should give priority to our seasonal workers and business owners. Additionally, as was discussed in the Sept. 2 assembly meeting, I support the extension of Resolution 18-12 which allows for the habitation of RVs on private property. This is a simple step the Municipality of Skagway can take to help alleviate some the traditional summer housing crunch. 

   The federal infrastructure bill presents an opportunity for Skagway to get some of the much-needed funds required to possibly develop a second RV park and/or high-density housing, as well as complete the significant sewer and electrical repair work needed at Garden City. I’d like to explore the idea of designating Garden City as the RV park for travelers and seasonal workers and consider building high density employee housing across the bridge. The units could be studios or two-bedroom condos two to three stories high. I look forward to future conversations with the community. 

In order to hit the ground running when harbor operations are turned over to Skagway in 2023, what needs to happen? 

On March 19, 2023 Skagway will have full control of the port. It is going to be Skagway’s waterfront, run by Skagway. This is incredibly exciting and the result of a lot of hard work from a lot of people. First and foremost, we need to hire a port director. The application period has closed, and interviews will begin soon. We also need to expand the Ore Dock to accommodate the larger Panamax class ships. This is extremely important to have ready by cruise season 2023. Skagway is the 18th largest cruise destination in the world, and we must have the dock infrastructure in place to accommodate all sizes of ships. White Pass has already done the work on the engineering and design, so I’m confident the project will be completed in time. 

   We also need to figure out a system of port governance. This is another area that a lot of work has already gone into. I’d like to see renewed discussions of a port authority model. While it would take a bit of time to initially develop, one advantage of this system is that the municipality would be shielded from potential liability issues. Another advantage is that the port authority would be comprised of members whose sole job is to focus on port related issues. 

I believe that White Pass is essential to Skagway’s economic success. We must find a way to work together. The Ore Basin must get cleaned up and I’m confident that it will. 

Can Skagway’s infrastructure handle the anticipated increase in tourists? What can be done to prepare for the future?  

The year 2019 saw the most visitors in Skagway’s history and at the same time most business owners in town reported a significant decrease in foot traffic on Broadway. This is largely due to the changing of the train schedule and drop off locations. Skagway is a unique cruise destination in that a large percentage of passengers don’t actually spend the day in Skagway. In 2019, more than 40% of passengers took some type of train tour. At the same time, hundreds of people could also be taking the fast ferry to Haines for various excursions. This takes quite a bit of pressure off our infrastructure during the day. However, we do need serious upgrades to our incinerator and sewer treatment facility, and this could be another good use of the possible federal infrastructure funds.

  In the immediate, as just about anyone who works anywhere in town will tell you, we need more restrooms, especially down at the docks, and as part of the Port Master Plan, they are in the process of being built. I’m also pleased to see more signage directing passengers back to their appropriate ship. This has been another issue over the years, and I’m looking forward to updating the design of these signs possibly with Alaska Native style art.