Four Haines residents have expressed interest in a vacant borough assembly seat. It is Haines’ second assembly appointment in less than two months.
Andrew Gray, James Hart, Sean Maidy and Sally McGuire put their names in for the seat vacated by Margaret Friedenauer.
Friedenauer resigned at the end of May because of the difficult political climate. About a month before, Mike Case stepped down out of frustration with the assembly’s decision to hire Debra Schnabel as manager.
But the contention that led to Case and Friedenauer’s resignations isn’t scaring some residents away from the open seats.
Now, three of the same people and one new person put their names in the running for Friedenauer’s former spot. None have served in Haines Borough government before.
Sally McGuire is the only new name in the list of applicants. McGuire is a small-scale farmer in her 60s. She said the acrimony in local politics actually motivated her to apply.
“I am particularly interested in civility and courtesy,” McGuire said. “And I would hope that I would be able to work towards that.”
Like McGuire, James Hart is a longtime Haines resident. He is Tlingit and is involved in Native organizations, including the local Chilkoot Indian Association.
“In the end there’s the big picture,” Hart said during the assembly meeting with applicants for the first open seat. “And I know that there’s a big picture here. Yeah, there’s gonna be fighting but we all have our opinions and we all know what the goal is and it’s to move the community forward.”
Hart said he could represent a younger generation on the assembly. Sean Maidy made that point as well.
Maidy has lived in Haines about two years and works as an apartment complex manager. He said he’d like to help improve Haines’ economy to make it easier for young families like his to move here.
“If it takes somebody who wants to settle down [here] years to move to a town, that’s got to be fixed,” Maidy said. “We can start programs with the budget that can almost immediately start bringing people into town, if we spend our money correctly.”
Andrew Gray also talked about improving Haines’ economy.
“We kind of do need the rising tide that will help make it attractive for young professionals and families to come here,” Gray said. “We do need some more jobs and economic activity to make that happen. And as an assembly member I’ll have my ears wide open for what does the most of that.”
Gray has lived in Haines for about a year. He said as a civil engineer, he would focus on long-term solutions for infrastructure like Lutak Dock.
The other three residents who applied for the first vacant assembly seat did not apply again. They are Paul Nelson, Judy Erekson and Don Turner Jr. Turner initially did file a letter of interest, but withdrew it Monday afternoon.
The assembly will meet as a committee of the whole on Monday, June 19 to talk with McGuire, Gray, Maidy and Hart. They will make an appointment at the June 27 meeting.
The appointee will serve only about three months, until the October municipal election.