A 35-year-old political novice bested three other candidates for an open Haines Assembly seat. Sean Maidy won the position by an about 30-vote margin. He differs from the other two assembly winners in political experience and longevity in Haines. But Maidy is already a somewhat familiar face, because he has served in an appointed assembly position since June.
Borough officials publicly counted 23 remaining ballots Tuesday night. The absentee, questioned and special needs ballots were totaled a week after the local election.
The only position still up in the air was a third Haines Assembly seat that carries a one-year term.
Sean Maidy already had a 20-vote lead, and it was solidified after the final tally. He garnered 497 votes.
“I feel like not even a year ago, nobody really knew who I even was,” Maidy said. “And now I got almost 500 people who voted for me to take a position in elected office. I’m honored.”
Maidy moved from Juneau to Haines with his family about two years ago. He works part-time as a residential property manager at a low income housing complex.
Maidy says he wasn’t politically involved until the 2016 presidential election. He was chosen as a local delegate for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. But at the state convention in Anchorage, he was disillusioned by partisanship. He returned to Haines, and noticed the local political division.
“Partisan, no matter which side you’re on, is wrong. Because everybody has common ground,” Maidy said. “That really stuck out to me when I came back to Haines, and it was the same thing that we were facing on the national and the state level. Except I thought it was more tolerable because we love each other here as a community and we ultimately have the same goals to thrive as a community. We want a robust economy, we want all of the same things, just in slightly different ways.”
Maidy says his first priority now is to get more local government training. Then, he wants to bring forward new ideas related to renewable energy and sustainability. He plans to resurrect a committee focused on those goals.
“I want to deal with incentivizing local businesses. I want to deal with incentivizing agriculture.Everything is about sustainability,” Maidy said. “I want to get a good, diverse, localized economy.”
Maidy and other newly-elected officials will take their seats at an Oct. 24 meeting. But the makeup of the assembly won’t change much.
Maidy and Stephanie Scott are two appointees who were elected to continue on the assembly. Scott is a former mayor who was appointed to Mike Case’s seat after his resignation in the spring. A second assembly member, Margaret Friedenauer resigned a couple months later. That’s when Maidy was appointed.
Aside from the two appointees earning elected terms, incumbent Jan Hill was reelected mayor over challenger Joanie Wagner.
So, the only new face on the assembly will be Brenda Josephson. She’s replacing outgoing member Ron Jackson, who didn’t run for reelection. Josephson drew the most votes of the six assembly candidates — 611. She has experience as a school board member and planning commissioner, but this is her first time running for assembly.
The fourth place assembly candidate was political newcomer Michael Fullerton. He earned 465 votes. Former assembly member Diana Lapham was just two votes behind. It’s Lapham second year in a row losing her bid for office. She says she wasn’t particularly surprised.
“I’m happy and I’m good. There’s winners and losers,” Lapham said. “And one thing I learned while being on the assembly and running for public office is you don’t ever take anything personally.”
Lapham says her one piece of advice for newly elected leaders is to develop a thick skin.
Fourth place assembly candidate Fullerton was out of town and unavailable to comment for this report.
Election results are still unofficial. They’re set for certification later this month.
Unofficial results after Canvass Board count Tuesday, Oct. 10:
Jan Hill – 566
Joanie Wagner – 497
Brenda Josephson – 611
Stephanie Scott – 566
Sean Maidy – 497
Michael Fullerton – 465
Diana Lapham – 463
Andrew Gray – 366
Brian Clay – 764
Anne Marie Palmieri – 746
Sara Chapell – 713
This story has been updated.