Juneau to hold March special election for new mayor

(Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)
(Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

Juneau voters will elect a new mayor during a special election on March 15, the assembly decided Monday night during its regular meeting.

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As deputy mayor, Mary Becker succeeded Mayor Greg Fisk when he died Nov. 30. Whoever wins the March special election will serve the rest of Fisk’s 3-year term, which ends October 2018.

Assembly member Loren Jones made the motion to have a special election for mayor. Member Kate Troll supported it and said the city can afford the estimated $35,000 cost.

“This was a leadership position. Mayor Fisk was elected with a strong show of support on all the precincts, so I think there is a desire out there for people to be able to vote on a leadership position,” Troll said. “And I also believe that it is a way of making all of us, including the community, move on through this difficult time.”

Members Jerry Nankervis and Debbie White opposed the motion. Both said in past similar situations, the assembly did not hold a special election. White added a special election would be a waste of time and money.

“I don’t even know that we’re going to get any kind of a turnout having an election in March. And the fact is, is that only about 20 percent of the voters even bothered to show up anyway. Maybe if they’re denied the opportunity this time, they’ll show up in October,” White said.

The motion passed 5-3 with Becker, Nankervis and White voting no. A new mayor could be sworn in any time after the election is certified March 22.

Becker said she doesn’t plan to run for mayor in the special election. Jones’ motion to hold the election also directed staff to prepare an ordinance that ensures Becker would return to her District 1 seat when a new mayor takes office.

In the meantime, the assembly is accepting applications through Jan. 5 to temporarily fill the District 1 seat. The assembly plans to review applications and potentially conduct interviews that same week.

Earlier in the meeting, the assembly selected member Jesse Kiehl to serve as Deputy Mayor.

Lisa Phu is a reporter at KTOO in Juneau.

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