Kevin Knox

Age: 48

How many years have you lived in Sitka and in Alaska? 9

Occupation: Head Coach- Baranof Barracudas Swim Club

Community involvement, past and present: 
I have been involved with a wide variety of community initiatives, from volunteering on the Sitka Fine Arts Campus improvements, serving on the Ports and Harbors Commission, volunteering in nonprofit board positions and organizing events like the Julie Hughes Triathlon and the Change Your Latitude Open Water Challenge. My current role serving on the Assembly has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences that I have been a part of in my life.

Previous government or other relevant experience:  

Professionally and personally I have served in a number of different roles with respect to government experience, including as a policy director and lobbyist, serving as a volunteer commission member, and currently serving as an Assembly Member.  Starting in grassroots organizing and moving on to policy advocacy broadened my perspective into how governments impact quality of life and community well-being.

During this time it has been a great honor to serve as a liaison partnering with Sitka Tribal Council to heal and strengthen the relationship between Council and Assembly.

Why are you running for a seat on the Sitka Assembly this year? 

Serving the community of Sitka as an Assembly Member over the past three years has given me valuable insight into how to navigate the rapidly changing landscape of municipal governance. 

State and Federal support and mandates have changed drastically, particularly in the last year, and every city in Alaska will be looking for ways to best support their community going forward. I would like to continue to explore ideas for building a diverse and robust economic base, look for ways to shift the equity of our tax base, and continue to support social and economic justice for those on the edges in our community.

What are your top priorities if elected?   

  • Provide Sitka’s Municipal Administrator a vision and clear direction to assure quality public services.
  • Continue to prioritize a forward-thinking fiscal model that includes an appropriate resource allocation to our children’s education and citizens in need, with an eye towards economic and social equality.
  • Continue to examine ways to diversify economic development.
  • Address housing needs and critical infrastructure needs.



Expecting the worst from the state, the assembly wrote a very tight budget for the year. How would you direct city staff to appropriate any additional funds if they became available, from the state or other revenue sources.

Our infrastructure is at a crossroads. We have an aging system that desperately needs repair. We currently have systems (water treatment, FERC, DEC waste regs, etc) that are inadequate by current regulation standards. Unless we continue to put money away and tackle the deferred maintenance that is on our books now, future generations of Sitkan’s will be saddled with massive costs to deliver essential services that we currently rely on.

Our underground systems like drinking water, waste water, and sewer replacement will also concurrently impact our road infrastructure replacement. When a lot of these systems were originally developed both by the state and the municipality, engineering standards were very different. Current available technology allows us to make the necessary replacements in ways that will last several generations. 

We cannot continue to kick the can down the road. We need to prioritize these projects today in order to address the crumbling infrastructure.


The Assembly’s role in hiring and firing: 

Several leadership positions are currently vacant within municipal government, including the city administrator, human resources director and planning director. What role should the assembly play in hiring and firing city staff?

The role of the Assembly with respect to hiring/firing is clearly laid out in the Sitka Charter.

According to the Charter, the Assembly is specifically only allowed to play a role in hiring and firing of two staff positions: The Municipal Administrator and the Municipal Attorney are the only directly supervised staff under the Assembly.  Specifically Section 2.11 (b) prohibits the Assembly from recommending or directing the appointment or removal of any officer or employee of the municipal administration.

The current Assembly has taken up making recommendations that I believe go beyond our purview. It is not appropriate for the Assembly to politicize staff positions or the Administrator’s oversight of staff. This is not a road our community should head down. I believe that future Assemblies need to keep in mind the parameters of our role according to the Sitka Charter. 


Advocacy and Opposition: 

How do you respond when you sense growing public opposition to an ordinance you support? What if you sponsored the ordinance, and feel it’s in the best interest of the public that it pass?

Bringing forward ordinances is inherently about risking public scrutiny. Bringing ideas forward for discussion is exactly how ideas are refined, vetted, passed, or tabled.  Drafting ordinances for review is a critical process that I have not shied away from. 

There have been times when I have voted NO on ordinance I originally supported after hearing public testimony and gathering more information. That said, I do not regret bringing ideas forward, rather I have valued the discussion and knowledge gained from the dialogue. 

One example I learned a great deal from was the Senior Tax Exemption. The Assembly passed the removal of the exemption, and members of the community brought the question back to voters and successfully repealed the removal. It was my belief from public testimony, emails, and personal contacts that it was something the majority in the community wanted. There is little legislation out there that is ever perfect and it isn’t always possible to get an exact read of majority favor or opposition. I still believe we did what we felt was right and the process for repeal was used as it should be. This is democracy in action, the process involves checks and balances as it should.


Attendance and Conduct: 

The assembly has had some very tense moments over the past year. Can you describe what appropriate conduct and participation at the assembly table looks like to you?

It is reasonable for Sitkans to expect a certain level of decorum and respect at the Assembly table and when in dialogue members of the community, whether in person, via email, or by phone. 

We all deserve respect and a chance to be heard. The Assembly conducts its meetings using Robert’s Rules and guidelines for conduct and decorum are clearly laid out in this document. 

Emotions often are high because we deal with difficult topics that impact people’s lives in real and tangible ways. However, everyone is at the table with the same rights and responsibilities. Sometimes we have to agree to disagree.

I have been approached by many in Sitka thanking me for offering a reasoned voice even in instances of  disagreement. I will continue to bring a respectful tone to debate and dialogue, focusing on patience and diplomacy.

No matter whom we are talking with — whether members of the public, professional experts in various fields, or city staff, we need to remember, regardless of whether or not we agree, everyone deserves our respectful attention. Those who do bring their ideas to the city and Assembly come with knowledge, passion, and commitment to strengthening Sitka as a whole.