ALASKAN FLAVOR – Young dancers Eloise Branch, Ella Haley Colliver, Maddox Dozier, Molly Hames, Maddy McDevitt, Aurora Phillips and Annie White emerge from the skirt of Mother Ginger, played by Jill Kisaka, during a rehearsal for “The Nutcracker” Wednesday. The Alaska-themed ballet opens 7 p.m. tonight at the Performing Arts Center. Tickets are on sale at and at the door. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

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Daily Sitka Sentinel

11 Candidates Line Up for Municipal Election

By Sentinel Staff

In this year’s municipal election, Sitka voters will choose a mayor, two Assembly members, and three School Board members, and decide on two ballot propositions.

On election day, Oct. 4, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Harrigan Centennial Hall, with Precinct No. 1 voting in meeting rooms 5 and 6; and Precinct 2 in meeting rooms 1, 2 and 3.

In-person absentee voting has been underway at the hall since Sept. 19, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

Candidates from left are: Steven Eisenbeisz, Kevin Mosher, Valorie Nelson, Ryan Matthew Herbert, Kris Chinalski, Thor Christianson, Chris Ystad, Richard Wein, Tristan Guevin, Mitch Mork and Melonie Boord.

The three candidates for a two-year term for mayor are incumbent Steven Eisenbeisz, Kevin Mosher and Valorie Nelson.

Candidates for the two three-year terms on the Assembly are Ryan Matthew Herbert, Kris Chinalski, incumbent Thor Christianson, Chris Ystad and Richard Jan Wein.

Vying for the one three-year term, one two-year term and one one-year term on the School Board are Tristan Guevin and Mitch Mork, who were appointed to vacancies in June. Melonie Boord filed as a write-in candidate on Sept. 23.

Ballot Proposition 1 asks whether voters want to exempt retail marijuana sales from the regular city sales tax and replace it with a special sales tax on marijuana with proceeds dedicated to school activities and associated travel. If approved, the tax would start at 6 percent on Jan. 1, 2023, and go up to 8 percent in 2024 and later years.

The regular city sales tax is 5 percent from October through March, and 6 percent from April through September.

Ballot Proposition 2 asks whether voters want to spend up to $8.18 million – the net proceeds the city received from the sale of the Sitka Community Hospital proceeds – for construction of a marine vessel haulout and shipyard at Gary Paxton Industrial Park.

Voters have to be at least age 18, have been a resident and registered to vote in Sitka for at least 30 days before the election.

Those needing more information can visit, or contact the municipal clerk’s office at 907 747-1811, or 907 747-1826.

Copies of the ballots and other election information will be published in the Sept. 30 and Oct. 3 issues of the Sentinel as a city legal notice.

Following are the candidates’ biographical information, statements on issues and their photos.


Candidates for Mayor:


Steven Eisenbeisz

Candidate for Mayor

Sitka is on a great path forward. For the first time in many years, we have the opportunity to reinvest in ourselves. Whether that is fixing infrastructure, or bringing back programs such as community schools that we as a town value. We are investing in our commercial fishing industry by fixing our cold storage bulkhead wall, and potentially making a large cash infusion for a haul out. 

Health care is expanding in town, bringing new services that we previously flew out of town for. This expansion also brought more housing to town in a time where the market is tighter than ever before. Sitka is adapting to a record-breaking visitor season. While not without hitches, our town accommodated upwards of 375,000 visitors in an exemplary manner. And these industries are only going to grow better from here. 

As mayor I have worked to create an environment where we all can prosper. Our Assembly is one that can thoughtfully disagree on issues, but continue to work together for the better of Sitka. We are stable, bringing an environment that encourages investment, not only from business but granting agencies as well. Utility rates have gone up. The Assembly has decided that stable reliable service is a necessity in town. We were unwilling to allow your sewer to back up, or house be without power. Both which could potentially cost much more than a rate increase.

Our relationships at the local, state and federal level are strong. Sitka has cultivated these relationships over the last several years, giving us a seat at the table when input is required. I will continue to support John Leach in his long range efforts, to include the Strategic Plan, implementation of asset management, and following through with our cost allocation study. These efforts will not reduce current rates, but will insure they are kept at the lowest possible cost going forward. 

There is still work to do, however. Housing is a local, state and national crisis. A lack of daycare means some of our workforce is staying home to care for their children. Food security and climate change are on many peoples’ mind.  Growth in our community must be managed, so we do not lose the heart of Sitka that we all love. I am aware of these concerns, and will work with the Assembly to make sure they are addressed. 

Electing me to a second term as mayor will mean more of the same that you have become accustomed to. Well run, efficient, positive and effective meetings will continue. City staff will be supported in carrying out the vision of the Assembly, and their mission of service to the community.

I am excited to build another strong Assembly that carries out the goals of our town. In this mission, I would look to our existing members and new to utilize each of their strengths. As stated, this is an exciting time for Sitka. I would be excited to continue to represent Sitka as its mayor.


Kevin Mosher 

Candidate for Mayor

My name is Kevin Mosher, and I am running for Mayor. The items below summarize what I would like to accomplish if elected.

Promote community affordability and economic growth

–Responsible, economic growth to help pay for Sitka’s infrastructure and other needs

–Explore the possibility of opening up more city owned land

*Sitka is in a housing crisis; we need to begin work now on opening up land for sale.

– Work toward finding ways to assist with Sitka’s child care crisis

*This will take a communitywide effort, pulling from many stakeholders, to learn how this issue can be addressed

–Support efforts toward building a haul out

*The maritime industry must be supported if Sitka is to prosper

–Ensure K-12 school system stays strong

*Collaborate with district to find ways to increase quality of education

while living in a time of unsure financial support

– Continue to support city’s transition to climate action

*Leverage skills of sustainability coordinator and climate action task force

*Change through finding efficiencies

*Continue strenuous effort to apply for federal funding to support aging, primarily electric infrastructure.

Engage the community

–Working together with the community is fundamentally important

*As Mayor, I pledge to welcome and listen to all views, and work towards

unifying the Assembly and community as much as possible.


Valorie Nelson

Candidate for Mayor

Hello. I’m Valorie Nelson one of your candidates for mayor. My residency here in Sitka started over six decades ago. I’m a former mayor and assembly member and my roots run deep in our community. My grandparents moved to Sitka in the late 1920s, my parents, seven siblings and children were all born and raised here and many of them have remained. I’m a graduate of Sitka High School and attended classes at UAS Sitka Campus.

As a retired person on a fixed income, I know how important it is to try to maintain affordability and that is why I chose to run for mayor. If you have questions, my email is and my telephone number is 907-747-4589.

Public investments and infrastructure are important; however, more important is creating a city where basic costs are affordable. When I see residential sewer rates increasing 19.66% in the past five years ($59.09 to $70.71 per month), garbage rates increasing 26.21% ($32.96 to $41.60), water rates increasing 9.24% ($49.45 to $54.02) and electrical effective rates going from 21.42 cents to 23.68 cents per kwh (this includes the base meter rate) I can only imagine what commercial rates have done.

For fiscal year 2023 our currently seated elected body added 15.5 positions and granted substantial wage increases which amounts to an annual increase of more than $1.8 million. If we don’t have the bodies here to do the work because they can’t afford to live here, economic development and affordable housing are nothing but pipe dreams. A marine haulout and healthcare expansion are important and I support both.

As an almost lifelong resident I believe that the growth in the visitor industry has been positive. I don’t believe the plan that was implemented this summer was a great one. Many have said that it was like the Assembly, administrator and visitor industry raised a big middle finger to a lot of locals to benefit the tourists.

In closing, it troubles me that the current incumbents believe they have done such grand work that they should be retained for the stability of city administration and staff. We shouldn’t be spending money before we have it and my service as mayor would mean more common sense and hopefully less costs to all. If you’re looking for someone that has the ability to think independently, act decisively and make fair and informed decisions, please vote for me on October 4. Thank you! 


Candidates for Assembly:


Kris Chinalski

Assembly Candidate

My name is Kris Chinalski. I have been a resident of Sitka for 16 years. My husband, children, grandchild, siblings and extended family all reside in Sitka. My family originally came to Alaska in 1913, and then came to Sitka in the late 1930’s with the fishing fleet.

I am running for Assembly because I have the time and business experience to devote to being an Assembly member. I have owned and operated Grandma Tillie’s Bakery for 16 years in Sitka. When my grandson was born in 2021 we decided it was a good time to close the bakery business so I can be a grandma. Our building is rented out and a wonderful new business has opened in Sitka.

My husband and I have operated Chinalski Home Repair for 25 years, first in Washington state, then Sitka. It has been quite the learning experience to start both businesses ourselves and continue to operate them through a myriad of economies, presidents, social changes and recently a global shutdown.

I believe a city should be viewed as a large business. The scale is different, of course, but the principles remain the same. Instead of customers, the city has taxpayers that fund the running of the city. Yes, this is simplified, but the best things in life (solutions are one of those things) are simple.

I believe in solvency, whether in business or family or society. Solvency is usually defined in terms of money, but it also can refer to stability and safety. It saddens me that modern culture places so little value on these traits. The federal government seems to have abandoned solvency as an outdated idea and replaced it with an ideology that suffocating in debt is acceptable. Sitka seems to be migrating in the same direction, if the ever increasing debt on the dam is any indication.

If I am elected to the Assembly, I will bring commonsense solutions. I am aware that this will not be well received by some people because of the measures that may be required to achieve the goal of fiscal responsibility. It is always easier (and more popular) to spend money like the consequences don’t matter, but I believe they DO matter. People matter. Quality of life matters.

I want my children and grandchild to thrive here in Sitka. This community is blessed with unbelievable abundance! There is absolutely no reason why we should be drowning in debt and facing a possible shortage of such an essential commodity as electricity.

I love this place. I love the wilderness, the pristine water and pure air. I was down south recently to help my parents and someone I was talking with asked me what makes Alaska so special that makes it worth living there.

When you live here, you just know. It is worth fighting for.

I will work hard to shine light on the problems and work just as hard to assist with the solutions. I realize this job comes with a steep learning curve and I ask for patience and grace as I navigate these waters. Thank you for your vote!


Thor Christianson

Assembly Candidate

My name is Thor Christianson, and I am running for the Sitka Assembly. I was born and raised here in Sitka and am raising my two daughters here with my wife Jessica. I have served four terms on the Assembly over the last 22 years. Both of my daughters are students in the Sitka School District. I have been a volunteer at the Sitka Fire Department since 1997 and I work at SEREMS. I love it here and want to help keep Sitka a place where my daughters will want to live when they have their own families.

Sitka is in an interesting situation right now. We have a lot of challenges, but we also have a lot of positive things happening right now. 

My experience gained by my time on the Assembly gives me the skills to help through these exciting times. Here are some of, but by no means all, the things I would like to work on in the next three years.

Sitka needs to support its fishing industry. Fishing has been the backbone of Sitka’s economy since there was Sitka. I was disappointed when we lost our haulout and have been working on trying to get a new one built. I have taken the lead on the plan to use the proceeds from the hospital building sale to get one built. It is now a real likelihood that not only will we get a new haulout, but that it will be better than any we have had before. I see this as a way to not only help our fishing industry, but to bring business to Sitka that would not have been here otherwise. If this passes, it will not only be a huge boon to our fishing fleet, but an economic driver to for Sitka’s economy.

Sitka is experiencing large increases in the number of tourists coming to Sitka. The cruise ship passengers are the most visible, but there has also been a significant increase in the number of independent travelers in the couple of years. Generally this is a good thing, but like every kind of economic activity, there are downsides as well. I believe that we need to continue to work toward finding the balance between welcoming the visitors and keeping Sitka the kind of place that we want to live in. This will require flexibility and collaboration, but I think we can do it. 

Sitka needs to work on ways to make it more affordable and sustainable. I believe we need to work to open up more of the city’s land for housing. This will not be easy, but I am willing to put the work into it to make it happen.

Sitka has a good working Assembly right now. While we have strong personalities on the Assembly, we are respectful and committed to getting our work done so that Sitka can be stronger. I like to think I am part of that dynamic and I would like to work to keep it going.


Ryan Herbert

Assembly Candidate

I was born to Jim Herbert and Chris Causey who are both pillars in this town of providing necessities to the public with a great heart. I grew up doing the same while working for King Coliseum, Shee Atika Restaurant and Orca Bay Bar. While I also work for many, many other companies here providing my honest workmanship in various trades while keeping my prices based on a balance of what they earn. I expanded my knowledge leaving this town and working for various amazing companies all over the United States encompassing everything that had to do with building proper infrastructure. So that one day when I came home and stayed I could share my knowledge and experience with the youth of our town to help our work force grow. I’m running for Assembly because of the many local hands here pushing me to help their children find homes.

I believe we have had problems arising for the last 20 years in low income housing, educational tradesman courses, certifications, transient usage of local housing, economic development, cost of living and quality of life here in Sitka, Alaska.

I traveled the states for the last 20 years to learn everything I possibly could, so I might bring that knowledge back home, while showing my community, that they might be inspired to grow, build and learn for themselves. I feel our job market is collapsing due to the lack of affordable housing, as well as the education into those growing fields of expertise workmanship. I believe our infrastructure is at a stalemate and needs to be bolstered into a new era while keeping our town unique and original.

I will not sit back while I watch my town be destroyed and changed by a giant of industry, selling out the soul of our land. I am confident there is a balance that can be achieved with local industry as well as the tourist industry; we just need to be more mindful and observant of these features so we may adjust them accordingly. I would love to see locals and tourists enjoy our town without causing too much sorrow on either side with those changes. 

There are many projects we are looking at once to do; I just hope we are doing them with our mind set in the right place. We must come together and build our future.


Chris Ystad

Assembly Candidate

I have been calling Sitka home for the past 16 years. Originally from Astoria, Oregon, a coastal community much like Sitka. I attended Pacific Lutheran University, enrolled in its five-year accounting program where you graduate with your CPA license.

After my second year, I came to Sitka for the first time to work as a charter deckhand during the summer. I fell in love with Sitka, fishing, and my wife Lisa Blankenship. Upon my return to PLU, I swapped my major and minor so I could graduate in two more years instead of three because I knew where I wanted to be, what I wanted to do, and who with. After graduating in 2006 I moved to Sitka working as a commercial fisherman in the spring and summer and construction in the winter. After a lot of hard work and saving I bought my own seine boat and started my own business.

After starting my own business, I saw the importance to be more involved and serve the people in my industry and community. I joined the Port and Harbors Commission five years ago, the Gary Paxton Industrial Park board three years ago, the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association board, Douglas Island Pink and Chum board, and the Southeast Alaska Seiners Association board. Port and Harbors, and the GPIP board work under the same rules and format as the Assembly, meaning if elected I won’t be lost my first day at the Assembly table. I’m also familiar with budgets and the budgeting process having worked with the Harbors’ and GPIP’s, plus I am on NSRAA’s budget committee.

My time learning to be an accountant in high school and college, plus owning my own business has added value in that area as well. All my time on these boards and commissions has prepared me for being an immediate and effective Assembly member. 

As an Assembly member I don’t only want to focus on the problems but work towards solutions to those problems. I think the new strategic plan lays out what Sitkans view as their biggest concerns right now. Not only will my general knowledge, life experiences and willingness to research aid me in achieving our goals, but so will my open-mindedness, ability to listen, ability to work with others, and humility when I know I’m not the authority on a subject. My levelheadedness, and ability to look at a scenario or argument from multiple sides, will help me engage with the public to bring rational decisions to the Assembly table. 

I want to bring a more business friendly atmosphere to the Assembly. I have a belief that a strong private sector brings with it a strong public sector. I want to open more land for development, addressing a housing crisis and utility rate crisis all at the same time. I want to support Sitka’s diverse economy, to ensure a sustainable future. 

I look forward to serving the citizens of Sitka. 


Richard Wein

Assembly Candidate

Throughout the ages there has been one constant theme that has been an underpinning of human relations. That theme is also at the crux of virtually all the important issues that Sitka faces. It’s the economy, and the eternal questions of How are we going to pay for it? and Who is going to pay for it?

Keeping the quality-of-life that we have come to enjoy and at the same time not losing sight of affordability is no easy task in this day and age. The road to a stable Sitka economy and a sustainable quality of life will always be elusive if we continue to give away valuable city assets, negotiate unfavorable contracts, or just plain old make foolish decisions without considering the long term consequences.  One cannot hope to achieve success in any negotiation unless one has the ability to say “No” when needed.

We talk of a “Strategic Plan” and a “Comprehensive Plan” for our fair city, yet it seems that we do not have a true understanding of the city’s economic standing. The understanding of our finances is more than just wading through an “Open Finances” app.  The Assembly cannot make rational and educated decisions without this context. Without the knowledge of the financial fundamentals we face, how can we decide what we can afford to do, what we cannot afford, and what we must do despite the expense. Without these basics spelled out by the Assembly and the administrator in detail and in plain English for the public to see, hear, and understand, a “strategic” or “comprehensive” plan has no meaning or direction. 

Yes, we need affordable housing. Yes, we need quality education. Yes, we need a haulout. Yes, we need so many things, but we are a small town with an enormous debt load and infrastructure needs. Though this year we may have an increased revenue, if the past be a guide to the future we will somehow squander our advantage. With economic storm clouds approaching, it is now time to take stock of our economic strengths and weaknesses and move forward thoughtfully and intelligently.

The Sitka Assembly needs diversity. The diversity that I allude to is that of diversity of opinion. Point and counterpoint not only adds richness to music, but also to any discussion.

Sitka is a magical community. We love living here, and people love visiting. Unfortunately, too much growth in remote and environmentally sensitive communities is a fools errand. We must get out of the eternal unlimited growth and debt acquisition cycle. We keep speaking of the children. But who do you think is going to pay Sitka’s enormous debt load? Far too many people vote to take on debt and in a few years leave.

Once again, I urge you as the poet Robert Frost suggested we must take the road less traveled. It is the path towards a more stable, balanced economy looking for that sweet spot with quality of life at its center. Acta non verba.


School Board Candidates:


Melonie Boord

School Board Candidate

My name is Melonie Boord; my Lingít name is Séetlein. I am the eldest child of Al (Kiks.ádi) and Pauline (Teikweidée) Duncan.  I was raised in Sitka graduating from Sitka High. Clancy, my husband, works in the maintenance department at Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center. We have two children, Mitchell and Marlis, both are Sitka School District graduates, who went on to complete post-secondary degrees and are now contributing community members here in town.

I completed two bachelor programs in Humanities and Social Work. I also graduated with a Master’s in Social Work degree. I am a licensed Clinical Social Worker. For the past seven years, I have worked as the Social Services Director for the Sitka Tribe of Alaska and before that I spent over a decade working at the hospital as a Social Worker and then Department Director. 

My community involvement includes serving as a board member with the Youth Advocates of Sitka, Sitka Health Summit Coalition, the Sitka Homeless Coalition, and Blatchley Smart Start team. 

My mother was a teacher at Baranof Elementary. She retired from the SSD with a combined total of 30 years as an educator. I have three in-law family members currently employed in the SSD. I understand and appreciate the sacrifices of time and energy that teachers invest into their work; as well as the love and dedication they have for their students and families. I look forward to supporting the current and continued education of our children, including my soon-to-arrive granddaughter. 

I am running for the School Board because over the past year I have been giving my input on board issues, I might as well translate that into a vote. The board can use balanced representation, as a female Tlingit/Hispanic with district experience as a student, parent, social worker, and soon a grandparent, I am invested in the decisions that shape our district. 

I am solution oriented. When I expressed concerns about the district not having a graduation regalia policy, I sent a rough draft template to consider. When I showed concern about the board considering renaming Baranof Elementary School after an individual, I conducted a survey to get community input on other possible names. When I expressed concern of the district not having a building renaming policy, I sent a template to adopt as guidelines for building one of our own. 

I have been looking into other board issues including funding support (the cap, budget process), teacher support (salaries, benefits, contract negotiations), student support (extracurricular activities, classroom size) and how our district, and other communities are addressing these important topics, I am ready to add to the conversation.  

Last year Sitka was one of the few elementary schools in Alaska and the nation to stay open and keep students in school during the pandemic and that’s a positive reflection on the teachers, staff, students, parents, administration, and board leadership. 

Please write in Melonie Boord for the open 1-year term on the Sitka School Board. Gunalchéesh. 


Tristan Guevin

School Board Candidate

I believe that access to high-quality public education is fundamental to us as both individuals and as a society.

At its best, public education is a vehicle for individual growth and opportunity, an engine of national development and innovation, and the foundation of our democratic way of life. At its best, public education is inclusive and equitable, and public education provides an opportunity for every child to thrive and succeed in life.

As someone with a passion for education, experience in public administration and policy, and a commitment to public service, I feel that I can contribute to my community through service on the Sitka School Board.

I strongly believe in the Sitka School District’s mission to “intentionally develop Haa Latseení (Our Strength of Mind, Body, and Spirit) to inspire and prepare students to be compassionate, empowered, and equipped critical thinkers within a global community,” and want to play my part to see this come to fruition for every student in the Sitka School District and in Sitka. 

As a Sitka School Board member, I will be a dedicated advocate for our students, families, and staff, I will be committed to listening to and engaging with the public, and I will work hard and be prepared for the job at hand.

My priorities will include ensuring a well-rounded and high-quality education for all students, mental health and social and emotional wellbeing, advocating for increased school funding, and working with the community, my fellow board members, the superintendent, SSD administration, teachers and staff, and SSD’s many partners to implement the 2022 SSD Strategic Plan and meet its goals.

I look forward to the opportunity to be able to serve the children, families, and community of Sitka in the coming years through service on the Sitka School Board, and ask for your vote in October.


Mitch Mork

School Board Candidate

My name is Mitch Mork. I went to elementary school in Wrangell before moving to Sitka and attending Blatchley Middle School. I graduated from Sitka High School and then went on to UAS and finally UAA where I received a degree in civil engineering. 

After college, I worked as an engineer in Anchorage for 12 years before moving back to Sitka to raise our kids in what my wife and I consider home. My wife, Kim, was also raised in Sitka. We have two boys, Chatham, 8, and Owen, 11, who participate in baseball, football, soccer, and basketball. When summer comes, we ditch the competitive sports and spend most of our time enjoying the outdoors. Kim and I spend most of our free time in the fall and winter coaching basketball.

I’m running for the School Board simply because I want to help. I’m constantly involved with kids activities, I’m passionate about education, and my engineering background may provide a little different perspective for the School Board, so a board seat seems like a good fit. I don’t see myself making a lot of changes, but I do plan to challenge assumptions and try to ensure that the SSD actions aren’t set a certain way just because that’s how we have always done it.

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At a Glance

(updated 9-12-2023)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 8:57 a.m. Tuesday, September 12.

New cases as of Tuesday: 278

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 301,513

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,485

Case Rate per 100,000 – 38.14

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "Low.'' Case statistics are as of Tuesday.

Case Rate/100,000 – 152.50

Cases in last 7 days – 13

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,575

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






October 2003

Sitka’s new city engineer, Dan Jones, 51, says his nearly 30 years in the field has given him qualifications for all aspects of his new post. ... He replaces Milt Ludington, who has moved to a different position in the city public works department.



October 1973

One of the most active organizations around town this fall has been the Sitka High Drill Team, the Wolverettes. A spaghetti feed Saturday is the latest project.


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