Ben Miyasato (KCAW photo/Brielle Schaeffer)

Ben Miyasato is one of three candidates for four seats on Sitka Tribe of Alaska Tribal Council. The current council treasurer is running for his third term. Miyasato wants to ensure education and employment for tribal citizens, as well as more local government collaboration.

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Common sense. If Ben Miyasato had a candidate platform for the Sitka Tribe of Alaska elections that’s what it would be.

“I use common sense when it comes to decisions,” he said. “I do listen to both sides of the issue and I also make sure that at council I read my packet  and on the assembly I read the assembly agenda and make sure that I am informed.”

Miyasato has served on the Sitka Assembly for two years. He is the vice deputy mayor.

He sees his congruent service as a boon to Sitka, something that can only help both tribal citizens and Sitka residents.

“We need to make sure that our tribal government and our city government always cooperate together and have that communication,” he said. “We need to pay attention to our legislators over in Juneau and the decisions they make they do affect us. Both governments need to realize we can work better together than separately.”

He says one of the most pressing matters the assembly and council need to continue to work on is deflecting proposed cuts to the Alaska Marine Highway System. Both bodies recently passed a resolution in support of more ferry service in the community.

“One north one south is not acceptable,” Miyasato said.

Other top priorities for Miyasato on the council are employment, affordable housing and education. He says he wants to make sure tribal citizens are receiving the services they should be – like support for higher education.

“We should be setting aside more money for scholarships for vocational and ensuring that the kids we do have in our school system make sure that they graduate,” Miyasato said.

He also says he is concerned about maintaining subsistence rights for all tribal citizens. That is something the council needs to stay on top of so people who like to harvest their own fish and game have the ability to do so year in and year out.

Miyasato says he’s running for the council again for continuity, especially in light of Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s debt problems in recent years.

“The Sitka tribe of Alaska has gone through some difficult times two years ago and they have made great strides getting themselves back to stability,” Miyasato said. “I have asked several council members and I do think they would like to see me serve again.”

He says the Tribe is currently working on ways of creating its own revenues to bolster its financial situation and not have to rely on grants.

Miyasato stresses the point that he is not running for his own personal interest.

“Any office that I do hold I didn’t run because I wanted to run I ran for those seats because I was asked to run.

And now that he’s been in office, he feels like he has enough experience to help keep the Tribe on the right track.

“It’s part of the process when you serve it takes commitment and it also takes the time to learn how to make the right decisions,” he said.

Service is a common theme for Miyasato. He proudly displays the time he dedicated to the military with his ever-present baseball cap that says “VETERAN.” Miyasato served in the Army National Guard for 20 years, including two overseas deployments.

“I think it is important to serve because you need to have someone there who will look at for the tribal citizens and look out for Sitka tribe government of Alaska and make sure our tribal government is running smoothly,” he said.

Miyasato wants the services the Sitka Tribe of Alaska provides to be seamless. He takes his position seriously and he says he wants to continue to be on the council to make the best long-term and level-headed choices.

“I am no better than any tribal citizen out here and they have elected me to make decisions and hopefully the wise and common sense decisions,” he said.

Miyasato was born and raised in Sitka. When not preparing for government meetings, Miyasato can be seen walking around town, fishing, and playing sports.

 The other two candidates running for the Sitka Tribe of Alaska Tribal Council are Lillian Feldpausch and Lawrence “Woody” Widmark. Polls are open now at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska offices at 456 Katlian Street. On election day, November 10th, tribal citizens can vote at the Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi.