Kitty Sopow is one of seven candidates running for three open seats on the Assembly. The municipal election is Tuesday, October 3rd. (Emily Kwong/KCAW photo)

There’s one write-in candidate for the Sitka Assembly this year and she’s a researcher at heart. Kitty Sopow, age 29, came to Sitka five years ago as an AmeriCorps volunteer. In choosing to run for the Sitka Assembly, this write-in candidate wants to help citizens understand the laws that govern their lives.

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Kitty Sopow says a number of friends told her to run for the Sitka Assembly, but the filing deadline passed while she was busy with field research this summer. Sopow is halfway through a master’s degree at the University of North Texas in Applied Anthropology. One of her favorite classes was a study of policy. While her classmates found the articles tedious, Sopow couldn’t get enough.

“‘Give me another article. I want to learn more,'” Sopow remembers thinking. “How can I take this to the historic preservation commission? How can I take this to people who make decisions for subsistence users? How are we going to do this when people make decisions for their employment handbook? All that’s policy.”

It was in the spirit that Sopow, waking up for a nap, realized that now was the time to run for the Sitka Assembly.”When I realized that I could actually be part of [the conversation], my mind was blown. I immediately…went back to sleep. Woke up the next day. Still felt took about it. And it was on. It was on from there,” Sopow said.

Sopow filed as a write-in candidate and if elected, this wouldn’t be her first time getting involved with local government.

Sopow serves on the local Historic Preservation Commission and was previously employed with Sitka Tribe of Alaska, first as an AmeriCorps volunteer in 2012 and later through a grant-funded position as their Department of Defense Lands Investigator. Her job involved cleaning up WWII sites for subsistence use. She also served a portion of a term on the Marijuana Advisory Committee and was a secretary for the Kayaani commission, which protects traditional and subsistence knowledge.

Of the Assembly, she hopes that one of the four women running gets a seat at a table where all seven positions are held by men. “I’m not saying that a male Assembly doesn’t have the ability to represent a town that also hosts women, but I do think that men and women experience their realities in different ways” Sopow asked.

She then wondered aloud why no one of Filipino descent served on the Sitka Assembly and added, “I don’t really know. I want to know more. I don’t know how to know more, except for getting involved in policy in this town. There’s just a lot of things that I’m starting to notice the more I just listen,” Sopow said.

Sopow has been doing a lot of listening since tossing her hat into the ring for the Sitka Assembly on September 7th. “That’s been the best part. People just come and talk to you about things they’re passionate about.” Sopow said. One of the issues she’s most interested is Sitka’s aging population and providing ample residential care for the elderly. She also supports the continued existence of Sitka Community Hospital so Sitkans have a place to “shop around.”

Sopow is the first to admit she has a lot to learn, but is confident in her ability to do her own research. She says she wants to be the kind of Assembly member who investigates an ordinance from all sides.

“I want to look at it holistically, not just what’s been announced at the Assembly meeting packet. I want to actually communicate with the people involved to learn instead of what’s been written in that paper,” Sopow said.

Writing on paper is exactly what Sopow hopes her supporters do this election season. Ballot counters will accept a close enough spelling to K-I-T-T-Y S-O-P-O-W, but the gray oval must be filled in completely for a vote for Sopow to count.

Read Kitty Sopow’s candidate statement here