Erickson (at left) became Alaska’s youngest school board president when his fellow members elected him to the position last October. Paul Rioux and Mary Wegner are also pictured. (KCAW photo/Katherine Rose)

The Sitka School Board is losing another member.

Board president Elias Erickson submitted a letter of resignation on Monday (6-22-20).

His resignation comes on the heels of fellow board member Dionne Brady-Howard’s, who left the board on June 10.

Erickson says the back-to-back departures are a coincidence.

“Our resignations are not connected,” said Erickson in response to a direct question on the issue. “No.”

Erickson  admits, however, that he and Brady-Howard held many ideas in common.

“But Dionne was a wonderful partner,” he added. “Her thinking really aligned with mine in a way that was really special. And it was certainly a pleasure to work with her.”

Dionne Brady-Howard (l.) and Elias Erickson were both elected to full terms in 2017. Often aligned in their thinking, Erickson says their back-to-back resignations were not connected. (KCAW file photo)

In his letter, Erickson says that it has been an “incredible honor” serving the community of Sitka.  He writes that “the last four years have not been easy, but I am encouraged by the work we have done together advocating for students, and ensuring fair and effective governance for our district.”

Erickson first joined the board in the fall of 2015 as the student representative. When he won an elected seat in 2017, he was only one of three high school students ever elected to a school board in Alaska. When his fellow board members named him chair in October, 2019, the 20-year old became the youngest school board president in the state.

He says he’s not done, he simply plans to detour back into doing what most 21-year olds do, including going to college.

“Someday I will return, to serve the community in some respect or another. I’m willing to explore that in future years, whether that’s school board again, whether that’s assembly — I don’t know. But right now I’m just trying to really focus on myself and doing some things I’ve always wanted to do — traveling around, visiting friends out of the state. Living a youthful life, so to speak, while I can, before I settle down more permanently.”

Both Erickson and Brady-Howard were concluding their three-year terms this fall. The board plans to appoint someone to serve out Brady-Howard’s term during its regular meeting on June 24. In a follow-up call, incoming superintendent John Holst told KCAW that he believes the board will also appoint a replacement for Erickson at the same time. “I see no legal reason not to,” said Holst. “We have five good people to choose from.”

The applicants are: Blossom Twitchell, Mitch Mork, Mary Suminski, Andrew Hames and Cathleen Pook.

The Sitka School Board will interview the applicants in public at 5 P.M. on Wednesday, June 24, in the Sitka High School Commons. The new members will be selected during the regular meeting immediately afterwards, beginning at 6 P.M.

Note: This story was updated at 6:52 P.M. Monday, June 22, to reflect the information that the board likely will fill both vacancies at its regular meeting on June 24.