Jaime Ackley, age 42, is one of seven candidates running for three open seats on the Sitka Assembly. The mother and a military veteran wants to lower the cost of living for families like her own and if elected, hopes to engage with the issues that hit closest to home.
If you ask Jaime Ackley why she’s running for Sitka Assembly, her answer is straightforward:”We don’t want to have to move. That’s one of the biggest reasons why I’m running. People who don’t make a lot of money need to be able to stay here,” she said.
Ackley is candid about her own family’s struggle to make ends meet in a town where the cost of living continues to rise. She spoke of several friends who were struggling to pay the bills and chose to leave.
If elected to the Sitka Assembly, Ackley wants to relieve the pressure on taxpayers. “We’ve gotta figure out a way, other than just taxing everyone on their power bills, to pay for the dam. There’s gotta be something else to be done,” she said.
At a forum hosted by the Sitka Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday (09-20-17), Ackley told the audience she’s been doing some independent research on cities under a similar bond obligation and wants to apply those ideas to Sitka. All the candidates were asked if they’d consider bankruptcy should the city fail to meet the bond payments. All said no.
Ackley moved to Sitka two years ago. In running, she wants to set an example for her 10-year-old son. “I want my son to know that when I say something is important and worth fighting for, he’s going to know that I’m going to be the first in line to fight for it,” she said,
Ackley is medically retired from the U.S. Army: a former surgical scrub tech who has worked at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, Joint Base Lewis–McChord (JBLM), and Fort Stewart in Georgia. She was raised by a single mother in Wenatchee, Washington and knows small town life firsthand.
Since coming to Sitka – which is her husband Jon’s hometown – Ackley’s been involved with the Sitka Veterans Association and design plans for a local veterans memorial. She’s begun to coach cheerleading and if elected to the Assembly, wants to create a safe space for teenagers.
“If it’s a place that [high school-aged students] can come play ping pong, foosball, pool, and just watch movies…just kind of a get-away. Maybe their home life isn’t good and so they need a break from fighting in their home or alcohol or drugs. We don’t want them to go down that same path,” Ackley said.
Ackley has a background in sports medicine and employed as a student athletic trainer at Wenatchee Valley College. When she first moved to Sitka, she worked in the surgery department at SEARHC’s Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital.
During a forum hosted by Raven Radio on Tuesday (09-19-17), she said her preference was for Sitka Community Hospital to remain open so citizens can choose where they seek medical care.
“If you [limit healthcare options], then you create compliancy,” Ackley told the audience. “The healthcare workers will stop caring about the quality of care they’re offering citizens. You have to keep people in check and allow them to know that someone will choose to go to a better facility, where they are offered better healthcare.”
Ackley now works for Sitka Tribe of Alaska at Tribal Tours and she’s recently taken a position at Harris Air. During the forum, she talked about the benefit of seeing a diverse cross-section of Sitka in a short amount of time and how despite not knowing the city’s history, electing her would mean electing a fresh set of eyes to the Sitka Assembly. It would also mean breaking the news to her youngest fan.
KCAW: What are you going to say to your son, if you’re elected?
Ackley: Be ready! (Laughs) Actually, if I’m elected I’m going to use this opportunity to make sure that my son is well-informed. He’s in the 5th grade. I think it would help him understand the challenges that parents go through every day here. We talk really frankly to him and when any major decision happens, we talk about it as a family.
Ackley added that if Sitkans elect her, they’ll elect her whole family. The issues facing local government are already a topic at their dinner table and those conversations would continue in earnest if Ackley is elected on October 3rd.
Read Jaime Ackley’s candidate statement here.