Sitkans will have three candidates to choose from this fall, to fill a vacancy in the local school board.
Paul Rioux says he’s running as a community member concerned for “our whole future.”
Note: The municipal election in Sitka is Tuesday, October 1. You’ll be able to read the positions of candidates — in their own words — on our election hub, which will be online in September.
Rioux has four children, three of whom are still in school in the district: two sons and a daughter in first, seventh, and ninth grades.
As a result, he’s paid close attention to what’s been happening on the district level.
“As you can tell by the number of kids I have in the district, I kind of have skin in the game when it comes to that,” Rioux said. “I feel like I have some history there, as far as having kids through the span, and I feel it’s important to give back.”
Rioux was born and raised in Maine. He moved to Sitka in 1995 to work as a commercial fisherman. He became a marine hydraulic specialist for Precision Boatworks 11 years ago.
His own high school training and career in the trades has informed his interest in vocational education.
“It’s important, especially for trades in this town, for people that want to stay and make a life here,” said Rioux. “There’s a lot of trade-oriented jobs here. I participated in vocational training when I went to high school and I use that training all the time.”
Rioux thinks the career and technical training programs in the middle- and high schools are fantastic, but he also believes in the importance of offering a range of academics and programs to hold the interest of all students.
This is Rioux’s first run at elected office, although he’s served five years on the board of the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Church, and two years on the board of the Sitka Community Development Corporation, and is a past-president of each.
Rioux says that service has been great experience, but he now feels called to work on behalf of the broader community.
“I guess I’ve always had a sense of civic duty, in the sense that a community is made up of people who are putting forth the extra effort,” said Rioux, “and I’ve always felt called to give back to my community in different ways, and right now this is the way that I feel I need to focus on.”
In his advocacy statement submitted with his candidate filing, Rioux writes, “I believe that great schools are the cornerstone of great communities, states, and nations.”