This week, Skagway Assemblyman Dan Henry was sentenced to just over a year in federal prison. Henry was convicted of failing to file his income tax returns over a four-year period. How Henry’s prison sentence will impact his service on the borough assembly remains to be seen.
Henry has served in Skagway government for about 20 years. His current three-year term doesn’t end until 2017. But he’s been ordered to report to a federal prison facility by Nov. 1 of this year. That’s about a month after municipal elections, in which two other assembly seats are up for grabs.
Mayor Mark Schaefer briefly mentioned the predicament at an assembly meeting Thursday.
“I think we’re all aware of Assemblyman Henry’s personal situation,” he said. “I’m discussing with the attorney on how we’re going to proceed in the matter.”
Schaefer and Henry did not return KHNS’s requests for comment.
The question of the whether Henry’s prison sentence disqualifies him from service on the assembly is up in the air. Skagway Borough Code says an assembly seat shall be declared vacant if a member is physically absent from the municipality for 90 consecutive days. But it has a caveat – the other assembly members have the power to excuse that member, allowing them to continue service.
Henry could try to call in to assembly meetings, but members are limited to four call-ins within a calendar year.
If Henry were to resign his seat or be excused, another question remains. Would the sitting assembly members appoint someone to the empty seat, or would voters get to decide in the October election? Orion Hanson was one of a few residents who spoke at the Thursday meeting asking for Henry’s assembly seat to join the other two on the ballot.
“If there is to be a third vacancy on the assembly, I think it would be democratic to have that opportunity for the voters to vote on that in this upcoming election,” Hanson said.
The two seats up for election this term are occupied by Spencer Morgan and Tim Cochran. As of Friday afternoon, no one had declared candidacy.