This is the second in a series of profiles of Sitka’s candidates for municipal office.
Benjamen Miyasato is one of three candidates for Sitka Assembly. It’s his first run for municipal office, but not his first time as an elected official. Miyasato is presently vice chairman of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s tribal council.
If you’ve seen Benjamen Miyasato in person, you’ve probably seen his hat: a baseball cap with the word “VETERAN” emblazoned across the top in gold.
“Operation Iraqi Freedom,” he said. “I went to Baghdad, Iraq, in 2005 and served my first deployment over there.”
Miyasato is retired from the military now. But he says the lessons he learned as a sergeant in the Army have prepared him for elected office.
“What are the hard decisions that need to be made?” he said. “A lot of times, when you make decisions, especially when it concerns others, and you are an elected official, sometimes you have to make those hard decisions, and that’s one of those where people can take the easy decision. When it comes time to make the hard decisions, I think I can do those.”
Miyasato is presently vice chairman of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s Tribal Council. As part of those duties, he represents the Tribe when it gives updates to the Sitka Assembly.
“Before that, I had no idea how STA and the city interacted,” he said. “So all of it is all new. From what I’ve seen, I think the communication and the working together part, I think it’s very good.”
Miyasato says he’s considered a run for Assembly before. But this year, he was approached by members of the community.
“There seemed to be interest out there by the public that they were coming up to me, asking me to run,” he said. “That was another reason why I thought this year would be the right time to run.”
Miyasato was born in Sitka in November, 1963, just a few days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It was a time of tremendous change in the United States. And Miyasato says he’s seen changes in Sitka, too.
“The Sitka that I live in now, I like the fact that it’s small town, that people know each other, that you’re able to go and do your day to day business, and you’ll always run into somebody you know. Always,” he said.
Miyasato says he likes that change comes slowly in Sitka, that the town is steadfast. But we also asked him to talk about the Sitka he wants to see.
“I’d like to see a little more change come about a little quicker on some items out there, and that’s one of the things I’m hoping I’ll be able to do?” he said. “The one thing I keep hearing again and again… it’s to be seen how the decisions that are being made now, how that will affect the future. Like affordable housing, they’re opening up part of the Benchlands.”
The city finalized a sale of four lots in the Benchlands neighborhood to Sound Development LLC, a locally owned company, for just more than $340,000.
But Miyasato doesn’t elaborate on his exact feelings about the Benchlands. He says on that, and other city issues, he needs to learn more before he can give an honest answer. His only information on the issue has come from media reports.
“When you read or hear news, you’re getting not the full picture,” he said. “That’s the one thing I do like, is to get the full picture. I like to study the issues and see both sides of it to get better understanding. That’s one of the things I’m hoping to be able to do on Assembly, is to get the full picture of issues out there.”
Ben Miyasato is on the ballot with Aaron Swanson. Steven Eisenbeisz is the third Assembly candidate, running as a write-in. The municipal election is Oct. 1.
Other profiles in this series include Steven Eisenbeisz and Aaron Swanson (coming Wednesday) for Assembly. We’ll also have profiles of Lon Garrison and Stephen Courtright, both candidates for school board.