How to Run for Local Office workshop preps candidates for Juneau’s October election on Saturday

Michael Beasley drops a ballot into a drop box at the City Hall Assembly Chambers on Election Day on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. (Clarise Larson / for the Juneau Empire)

Juneau’s annual How to Run for Local Office workshop is happening on Saturday. It gives anyone a chance to ask questions and learn about what it takes to campaign for the Juneau Assembly or School Board. 

Current and former members will offer advice to prospective candidates for this October’s municipal election.

Peggy Cowan with Juneau’s League of Women Voters said the workshop is a chance for people to learn the ins and outs of running for local office in Juneau.

“The whole idea is that some people have voiced that they’re reluctant, and they think you have to be sort of ‘In the know’ and ‘Part of a special group’ or whatever to run and they’re intimidated by the process,” she said. “So this is to try to take the mystery away, and provide people with the tools and the insights and ideas to both campaign and serve.”

The city, the League of Women Voters and Friends of the Juneau Public Library have hosted the annual workshop for close to a decade.

Cowan said you don’t have to be planning to run for office in order to attend it. 

“Some people are exploring whether they want to be a school board member or an assembly member so it lets them decide and choose,” she said. 

Six seats are open in the October 1 election – two on the Juneau Assembly and three on the school board. There are a few citizen initiatives that could also land on the ballot, and it’s a mayoral election.

Current Mayor Beth Weldon is up for reelection but has not confirmed whether she plans to run.

Assembly seats currently filled by members Michelle Hale and Wáahlaal Gídaag Barbara Blake will be up for grabs. But, both told KTOO that they don’t plan to run for reelection.

Hale said she wants to spend more time enjoying her retirement and step away from the emotional toll of the public criticism Assembly members face. 

“I have not figured out how to deal with really horrible things that people say to us, and really horrible emails that people send to us,” she said. “It is hurtful and it is damaging.”

Blake said she simply wants to spend more time with her kid. 

“The time commitment is just something that I’ve been struggling with,” she said. “And I’ve got a young man, he’s my only child, he’s going into his senior year next year, and I want to be able to dedicate my time to spending all the time I can with him.”

School board seats currently filled by Will Muldoon, Elizabeth Siddon and Amber Frommherz are also open this election. Muldoon told KTOO he is leaning toward running but is still deciding. Siddon and Frommherz both said they’re still considering whether to run again. 

There’s still some time to decide – the filing period to run doesn’t open until mid-July. 

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