City clerk Sara Peterson swears in Steven Eisenbeisz, Ben Miyasato, and Richard Wein to the Sitka Assembly. Eisenbeisz and Wein will serve a three year term, while Miyasato will serve a one year term. (Emily Kwong/KCAW photo)

On Tuesday night (10-10-17), the Sitka Assembly certified the results of last week’s election.

Richard Wein and Steven Eisenbeisz were sworn in for a three year term. This is Wein’s first time serving on the Sitka Assembly, while Eisenbeisz will be back in the saddle for a second term. Ben Miyasato will serve a one-year term, having previously sat at the Assembly table from 2013 to 2016. He was the third highest vote getter, in a close election with numerous candidates.

The Assembly also expressed their thanks to outgoing members Aaron Swanson and Tristan Guevin, who served for four and three years respectively.

Swanson opted not to give remarks as the Assembly bid him farewell. He posted later on Facebook, “It was an experience to say the least: budget issues, hiring of a city attorney, hiring a city administrator and attempting to use the taxpayers money for city use in check. Thank you for the opportunity Sitka,” Swanson wrote.

Tristan Guevin, who called in to the meeting from his new home in Baltimore, gave a heartfelt speech about his tenure and recent reflections. “I hope that this new Assembly…continues to look out for those Sitkans at the margins: those Sitkans who are really struggling to make it, who feel left out, marginalized, and forgotten. I just want to say how fortunate I feel that I have been able to serve on this Assembly. It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to serve the citizens of Sitka,” Guevin said.

Listen to Tristan Guevin’s full remarks here:

Downloadable audio.

The Assembly recognized outgoing members Aaron Swanson and Tristan Guevin for their “diligence, dedication, and community service.” (Emily Kwong/KCAW photo)

Roles, Responsibilities Assigned

After a 10-minute break, to address technical issues with Harrigan’s microphones and munch on vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, Mayor Matthew Hunter reviewed procedural ground rules from city code.

“All reports from the beginning of meetings should be three minutes or less, just as we ask of citizens…During debate, members who have not yet spoken will have right to the floor first. If I miss you, please rise to a point of order,” Hunter said.

He also set a house rule that all Assembly members keep their comments to five minutes, adding, “I don’t actually anticipate it being an issue.” City Clerk Sara Peterson will keep a timer during Assembly deliberations.

Steven Eisenbeisz was appointed Deputy Mayor and Bob Potrzuski as Vice-Deputy Mayor. The two held opposite roles last year.

The seven member body then shifted around liaison duties among the city’s boards, commissions, and committees. In that role, liaisons don’t vote or provide direction. They do, however, participate in discussion and serve as a communication bridge between the board and the city.

Both Richard Wein and Steven Eisenbeisz volunteered to be liaison to the Sitka Community Hospital Board, a position held by Eisenbeisz for the past three years. “I think, over the last two years, both the Assembly and the citizens have not been well-informed. I can do that. I normally don’t nominate myself for things, but I think this is so important and one of the basic reasons I was elected,” Wein said.

The surgeon practiced nine years at SEARHC’s Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital and was then hired by Sitka Community Hospital in 2010, providing round-the-clock surgical coverage. His contract was not renewed by the current administration for undisclosed reasons this year.

Aaron Bean supported Wein’s appointment as board liason. “I would urge the rest of the Assembly to consider the expertise Dr. Wein would bring to the table, in terms of things that are happening with our hospital,” Bean said.

Knox agreed, but was concerned about Wein’s closeness to the issue. “Do you feel like you have enough distance?” he asked, “The current administration that is there – and the board that you would sitting with – is the same one that terminated your employment.”

Wein responded in saying he has no ill-will. “I have plenty of distance. I have demonstrated publicly what my support [for the hospital] is.”

The Assembly voted 5-2 in favor of Steven Eisenbeisz to serve this position, with Wein and Bean voting in Wein’s favor. Wein will serve as an alternate in the event that Eisenbeisz cannot attend the monthly meetings.

Other liaison appointments were decided through a show of hands. They are:

Gary Paxton Industrial Park Board of Directors: Bob Potrzuski

Health Needs and Human Services Commission: Richard Wein

Historic Preservation Commission: Aaron Bean, with Steven Eisenbeisz as an alternate

Sitka Community Hospital Board: Steven Eisenbeisz, with Richard Wein as an alternate

Investment Committee: Ben Miyasato, with Aaron Bean as an alternate

Library Commission: Matthew Hunter

Local Emergency Planning Commission: Bob Potrzuski

Parks and Recreation Committee: Kevin Knox

Planning Commission: Kevin Knox, with Aaron Bean as an alternate

Police and Fire Commission: Ben Miyasato, with Steven Eisenbeisz as an alternate

Port and Harbors Commission: Aaron Bean, with Matthew Hunter as an alternate

Tree and Landscape Committee: Bob Potrzuski

Informational Liaisons

Southeast Economic Development Association (SEDA): Aaron Bean, with Ben Miyasato as an alternate

Sitka Tribe of Alaska: Kevin Knox, with Aaron Bean as an alternate

Sitka School District: Bob Potrzuski, with Ben Miyasato as an alternate