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No free ride for Southeast legislative candidates

Southeast Alaska's House and Senate districts are shown in this 2013 redistricting map. (AK Redistricting Board)

Southeast Alaska’s House and Senate districts are shown in this 2013 redistricting map. (AK Redistricting Board)

All Southeast legislative incumbents face challengers this year. A dozen people put their names in the hat by Monday’s filing deadline.

This year’s candidate tally is higher than that of at least the past two elections. And in those races, several incumbents faced no challengers.

Sitka Senator Bert Stedman, who’s not on the ballot this year, says there’s a good reason no one’s running unopposed.

“I would think it’s (because it’s) the first election after redistricting has been totally settled. Then we’ve got the referendum on Senate Bill 21. I think that will lead to some good dialog and discussion,” he says.

Senate Bill 21 lowered oil taxes.

The busiest Southeast race is the only one with no incumbent. Republican Rep. Peggy Wilson is not seeking re-election to the Ketchikan-Wrangell-Prince of Wales Island House seat.

Three Ketchikan Republicans are competing in the August primary. They’re Chere Klein, Patti Mackey and Agnes Moran. The winner will face Ketchikan independent Daniel Ortiz in the November general election.

Stedman is not surprised by the large number of candidates.

“Take a look at the retirement of Peggy Wilson. I think that should be expected when you have a representative that has been there for a decade or longer,” he says.

The other four races have no primary challengers, just one Democrat and one Republican facing off in the November general election.

Petersburg Republican Steven Samuelson is taking on Sitka Democratic incumbent Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins in the race to represent those two communities, plus smaller cities and villages.

“It’s the democratic process. And it’s nice to give the public an opportunity to select their elected official and have somebody to choose from,” Stedman says.

All three Juneau races have challengers this year, though they didn’t last election.

Republican Peter Dukowitz is trying to oust Democratic incumbent Sam Kito in the downtown Juneau-Douglas-Haines-Skagway-Gustavus House race. Kito was appointed to the seat earlier this year.

Democrat George McGuan is challenging incumbent Republican Cathy Muñoz in Juneau’s Mendenhall Valley-based House District.

And Republican Tom Williams filed to run against incumbent Democratic Sen. Dennis Egan.

Read the list of all candidates on the August primary ballot.

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