UPDATE: There is one more applicant for the Skagway Assembly vacancy, although it’s uncertain whether her letter of interest will be considered legitimate.
A vacancy on the Skagway Borough Assembly drew interest from four residents, including two who are especially young.
Nathan Helmer is 21 years old and has lived in Skagway for about two years.
“I hear people talking, they’re kind of concerned about the direction of city, different financial concerns,” Helmer said. “I’ve always been interested in the political process and I’ve tried to keep aware of the different issues locally, nationally, statewide. I know I am very young, but I figured, why not?”
The telecom technician thought the assembly could use a younger voice. So, he turned in a letter of interest for the vacant assembly seat. Little did he know, he wouldn’t be the youngest person to apply.
“I think that my youthful aspect would find ways to benefit future Skagwegians,” said 19-year-old Dominic Rotier. “And possibly see things that other people wouldn’t necessarily recognize or notice.”
Rotier has been in Skagway about three years. He graduated from high school in 2016 and runs a delivery business with his mother. Like Helmer, he wants to bring a fresh perspective to the assembly.
The seat up for grabs was occupied for the last two and half years by Angela Grieser. She resigned due to health issues. In an interview before she stepped down, Grieser said she hoped women would apply for the vacancy. The other five assembly members are men.
Monica Carlson is the only woman out of the four applicants. She is also the only one who has served in Skagway government before, as a city council member. Carlson is operating manager at Skagway Streetcar Company.
“I believe it’s a pivotal time for Skagway’s waterfront development,” Carlson said. “And I’m a person of solutions. So I hope that I can help the city go into the future with an eye to the future.”
Plans to renovate and clean up contamination on the waterfront have stalled in the past couple years. A private company, White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad, controls much of the port.
Karl Klupar also thinks the stalemate over waterfront development should be Skagway’s first priority. Klupar is a longtime resident and owner of the Historic Skagway Inn.
“My whole life has been in operating businesses and getting programs to work,” Klupar said. “That’s kind of the way I think. So I think I can provide insights into how things might work or might not work and help form the decision that the council comes to.”
When asked what issues they would like the assembly to address in the near future, all four assembly applicants brought up Skagway’s housing shortage, which some called a ‘crisis.’
The assembly meets Thursday. At that gathering, the group may set a committee meeting to discuss the letters of interest.
Just like Haines, the Skagway Assembly is in the middle of establishing a spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year. They are also in the midst of a new port planning process with help from an outside consultant. Aside from those two major decisions, residents have requested the assembly send a recreation center expansion bond question to a public vote.
The appointed assembly member’s term will last about five months, until the October election.