The window of opportunity for prospective 2020 municipal election candidates will be closing soon.
The filing period for Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly, Ketchikan City Council and Ketchikan School Board will close at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Ketchikan has 11 elected positions to fill, and currently has 19 candidates.
The folks who are elected will be dealing with one of the most challenging periods in Ketchikan history. But adversity creates strength, and whoever can lead the community to better times will become its champions.
Most of the issues coming up between now and the next municipal election are related to the novel coronavirus or are an effect of its implications.
Beginning with the lack of money. Both the borough and the city are facing severe financial difficulties because of COVID-19.
The Assembly and council will determine the direction of relief funds, including to businesses, which endured weeks of closure in the spring and/or loss of the community’s five-month cruise ship industry. Many depend directly upon, and even more indirectly on, the industry’s annual presence to weather the fall and winter months.
Last year the community was expecting promising growth years in the near term for the industry. The city was planning for port upgrades and expansion, while another cruise ship dock was to be built by private enterprise.
The dock issues created a furor, and, after a period of public attention focused elsewhere, they are back as the council conducts meetings with two firms interested in the port project.
To say that this project determines the community’s future isn’t far off. The cruise industry is bigger than commercial fishing and timber harvest, the leaders in past periods, and is expected to be Ketchikan’s biggest industry for the foreseeable future.
The city and borough progress in these times also will affect the school district, which is learning how to provide education in the midst of COVID. While answers are being determined daily, the questions continue to pop up and will throughout the School Board’s imminent year.
The upcoming terms in office aren’t likely to be tranquil. They will test the members of the elected bodies’ mettle. Common sense and humility will come in handy. This is no time for grandstanding. It’s time to look at the facts, listen to the public, temper emotion and make grounded decisions like never before.
The public seats come with considerable authority. While seven members sit on each body, it takes only four votes to decide the fate of about 8,000 souls in the city and 13,000-plus in the borough and school district.
Those who have expressed an interest in the responsibility include:
• Assembly (three three-year terms)— Incumbent Amanda Pierce (current vice mayor), Jeremy Bynum, Sheen Davis and Matthew Merrill.
• School Board (two three-year terms) — Incumbents Diana Gubatayao and Paul Robbins Jr., as well as newcomer Ali Winter.
• School Board (two one-year terms to fill out incomplete commitments by former members) — Incumbent Tom Heutte, Nicole Anderson and Kim Hodne, a past board member.
• City Council (three three-year terms) — Incumbents Dick Coose and Dave Kiffer, Jai Mahtani, Abby Bradberry, Riley Gass, Spencer Strassburg and Joey Jean Tilson.
• City Council (one one-year term) — Incumbent Mark Flora and Grant Echohawk.
If you don’t see your preferred candidate(s) on the list, two days remain to get them there. After Tuesday and the campaign season, it’s only a matter of the Oct. 6 vote.