Wrangell has two candidates in this year’s mayoral race. KSTK’s Ariel Van Cleave sat down with both of them recently and filed this report.
Dave Jack and Don McConachie are hoping to take over when current mayor Jeremy Maxand steps down. Both serve on the borough assembly and are long-time Wrangell residents. McConachie has been involved with city politics for the last 14 years serving on both the council and as mayor. He first came to Wrangell in 1984 to work as a cannery manager for JS McMillan Fisheries, then moved on to the mill in town. After that shut down, McConachie worked for GCI for many years before retiring recently. He said he is focused on diversifying the city’s economy.
“I really want to see a hospital built. I enjoy building things, always have, and that’s not going to change. There’s gonna be no surprises to the public for that. And I would also like to see other things done. I would like to see us investigating into the solid-waste development for the city of Wrangell,” he said.
Jack said he also would like to see new industries come into town, “The major thing here in this community that I think is needed is more jobs, or more opportunities for jobs. I know the incumbent mayor Jeremy Maxand is really interested in wood by-products such as the biobricks and that sort of things and whatever could be made, and small mill operations. And I really support him in that.”
Jack first arrived in Wrangell in 1960 when he worked for the city and helped construct a portion of Zimovia Highway. Once his job was done, he served six years active duty in the Army, headed down to the Lower 48 for a few years and eventually wound up back in Wrangell. Jack also worked for the mill, but moved on to the police department once that closed. He served as harbormaster for about three years before recently retiring. He said although he would like to see more jobs in town, he points out Wrangell’s recent successes.
“There’s been a lot of controversy going on the last, at least the last year. And right now I feel like there’s a lot of cooperation that’s happening. I am the liaison for the hospital board from the assembly. And at this last meeting I saw that people were really trying to make an effort to work together,” Jack said.
McConachie said the town has had some recent economic success stories, thanks to the city’s diligence, and he would like to build on those, “Years ago when the mill closed down and we had to work our way out of that, we lost a lot of population, we lost a lot of jobs and it was a very devastating time. But slowly but surely we have reinvented ourselves. We have the biggest success of course, I’m gonna count it as two, one Heritage Harbor where a lot of boats got brought back into town. And marine service center, that has been a success story like nothing else in this town.”
Jack said one thing he’d like the voters to know about him is that he will take a cautious approach to ensure the city is following the letter of the law.
“I vote however the ordinances state. I believe strongly in the Constitution, and the law, of course, being an ex-police officer. But that’s just my philosophy, and I believe in doing things right. And if we can’t do it right, then we better wait until we can,” Jack said.
McConachie said his persistence and focus are traits that could benefit the city, “What I try to do is stay focused on a certain item and keep going until that item is completed. We did the same thing with the Nolan Center. I would really like to see controversy die down in this town. I’d like to see us, rather than fighting amongst ourselves, look at the greater glory of this town and focus on something that is going to get done.”
Voters will have a chance to decide who will sit in the mayor’s chair during the city’s regular election October 2.