By Melinda Munson
Assemblymember Reba Hylton’s last day on the Skagway Borough Assembly will be April 7, approximately six months short of her term. She accepted the position as Haines Tourism Director and will relocate to her former home along with 10-year-old son, Emmett.
Hylton said Haines, where she was a river guide for nine years, is where she first fell in love with Alaska. Hylton moved to Skagway in 2007 to work for White Pass and Yukon Route Railway, then transferred to Skagway Brewing Company in 2018.
Hylton started her tenure on the assembly in October 2020. She described her term as, “one crisis after another,” including COVID-19 shutdowns, life threatening landslides on Railroad Dock and a struggling clinic.
“What I’m most proud of are the beginnings of a senior center, the childcare $100,000 start-up grants and the many ways the entire assembly came together and worked diligently to financially do all we could to help our businesses and residents make it through the pandemic,” Hylton said.
Hylton is a strong supporter of Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium assuming operation of the municipality’s Dahl Memorial Clinic. That controversial issue will come before the voters on April 18.
The first item Hylton placed on the Heath, Education and Welfare Committee agenda as chair was the dysfunctional school kitchen. Almost three years later, the kitchen addition is complete and students are back to hot lunches.
Although not the assembly liaison, Hylton attended or listened to every Ports and Harbor Advisory Board meeting in preparation for the borough assuming control of its waterfront this month.
Hylton’s parting legislation is Resolution 23-13R: Expressing Intent to Dispose of Garden City RV Property (GCRV). Not reviewed by the borough attorney, Hylton described the resolution as a blueprint she hopes assembly members will embrace and push forward. The measure would divide GCRV (the former site of St. Pius X Mission Residential Boarding School for Native Children) into 24 lots, transferring 12 to Skagway Traditional Council for $10. Six of the remaining lots would be sold by lottery to the public with no restrictions. The last six lots would be sold by lottery to the public for the purpose of high density housing.
The resolution was sent to the Finance Committee for review.
Assemblymember Orion Hanson thanked Hylton for her service.
“Reba, thank you for all your hard work. You have really fulfilled your seat with great effort, integrity, and really tackled difficult issues,” he said.
As of April 7, the assembly has 30 days to fill Hyton’s seat.
Mayor Andrew Cremata asked prospects for the position to demonstrate their interest.
“If there are members of the public who are interested in filling that role until October when we have our next regular election, it’s a good time to reach out to an assembly person, or by letter, however you feel comfortable. It doesn’t have to be a letter. It could just be a conversation. It could just be an email. It could be any number of ways because code is a bit nebulous when it comes to process,” he said.