Skagway's city hall and museum. (Greta Mart)

Skagway’s city hall and museum. (Greta Mart)

Skagway now has a competitive race for borough assembly, with four candidates running for two open seats.

Two Skagway residents have filed as write-in candidates within the past couple weeks. Mavis Irene Henricksen and David Brena both say they chose to run because of concerns with the proposed tidelands lease between the municipality and White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad.

Skagway voters will decide whether to approve an ordinance allowing the town to enter into the 35-year contract in the October municipal election. They’ll also elect a mayor and two assembly members.

Incumbent Mayor Mark Schaefer is seeking re-election. Schaefer works for White Pass. Lease critic Roger Griffin is running against him.

Initially, two candidates filed for the two borough assembly seats. Incumbent Steve Burnham Jr. filed for re-election, and his uncle Jay Burnham filed as well. Steve Burnham Jr. has served on the assembly since 2012. Jay Burnham is on the planning commission and has not run for elected office before. Both work for White Pass.

Assemblyman Gary Hanson, whose seat is also up for election, did not file.

Henricksen put her name into the running as a write-in candidate earlier this month. She was born and raised in Skagway and also lived in Ketchikan. She worked for the railroad, but is currently retired. Henricksen was on the assembly from 1978 to ’81.

Brena filed as a write-in candidate this week. He grew up in Skagway and has lived there most of his life. He worked as an engineer for White Pass and as a real estate developer, and he is now retired.

Brena and Henricksen say their doubts about the proposed tidelands lease motivated them to start write-in campaigns. The lease dictates ownership and control of Skagway’s tidelands for 35 years. The municipality chose to negotiate the new lease in order to gain access for port improvements as part of the Gateway Project.

The municipal election is Tuesday, October 6th.

KHNS is holding a forum for Skagway mayoral and assembly candidates. It is Monday, September 28th at 7 p.m. in the AB Hall. If you have questions for moderators to ask the candidates, you can email them to

Correction: A previous version of this story stated Mark Schaefer was part of the lease negotiating team. He was not on the negotiating team.