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Shareholder slate challenges Sealaska incumbents

Sealaska Plaza, the regional Native corporation's Juneau headquarters. Four shareholders are challenging the same number of  incumbents as a slate.

Sealaska Plaza is the regional Native corporation’s Juneau headquarters. Four shareholders with business backgrounds are challenging the same number of incumbents as a slate.

A slate of shareholders with business backgrounds is trying to unseat four incumbents on Sealaska’s board of directors.

Margaret Nelson, Carlton Smith, Ross Soboleff and Karen Taug announced their candidacies Wednesday, April 30.

They call their slate “4 Shareholders for Sealaska.”

Spokesman Randy Wanamaker says the candidates are worried about Sealaska’s poor performance.

“With the information that the last dividend was not really based on Sealaska’s earnings, perhaps it’s time for new ideas and new energy, new talent to provide their expertise to the company for the shareholders to consider to move the company toward profitability,” he says.

Candidate Carton Smith serves on Juneau’s Assembly and runs a commercial real estate company. Karen Taug is controller for the South East Alaska Regional Health Consortium. Ross Soboleff is a former Sealaska spokesman. And Margaret Nelson is business development manager for a construction company.

Wanamaker says the slate supports term limits for Sealaska board members.

“It ensures that there’s always a continuous flow of new ideas into the company and new energy and we bring in new experience,” he says.

The slate also wants to link executive bonuses to business success. And it says it will pay more attention to shareholder suggestions.

Members are challenging four powerful incumbents on the regional Native corporation’s 13-member board.

Byron Mallott is a former Sealaska CEO who is running for governor. Rosita Worl heads up the corporation’s cultural institute. Ed Thomas spent nearly three decades as Tlingit-Haida Central Council president. Sidney Edenshaw is a director of the Haida Corporation.

Sealaska spokeswoman Nicole Hallingstad says corporate law keeps her from commenting on the board slate before ballots become available. But it’s well within tradition.

“This independent proxy is an example of shareholders who are exercising their rights as shareholders as set forth by the state of Alaska and Sealaska’s own bylaws,” she says.

Proxy ballots will go to the corporation’s almost 22,000 shareholders on May 15th.

Other independent candidates have indicated they will run. Incumbents are usually challenged, but few coordinate their campaigns or run as a slate.

Election results will be announced at Sealaska’s June 28 annual meeting in Seattle.

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