Frank Lee Jimmy, who goes by “Leo,” is the first candidate to file for one of two open seats on the Sitka Assembly. The municipal election is Tuesday, October 6. (Photo provided by City of Sitka)

The first candidate has filed to run for one of two open seats on the Sitka Assembly. Leo Jimmy has been working to get a treatment center in Sitka, and now he’s shifting his energy to local politics.

Frank Lee Jimmy, who goes by “Leo,” is the first candidate to file for one of two open seats on the Sitka Assembly. 

“I’m 53, Alaska Native, moved up here in 2012. I’m from Ketchikan, was born in Anchorage and graduated from high school in Ketchikan in 1985,” says Jimmy, speaking with KCAW in an interview on Thursday (7-23-20).   

Jimmy works as a building attendant for Sitka Tribal Enterprises and the Sitka Chamber of Commerce, but his work in the community goes beyond that. Over the last year, Jimmy has been trying to reestablish an inpatient rehabilitation center back to Sitka. Sitka’s has some outpatient rehab services, but lost its inpatient facility, the Bill Brady Center in 2013. 

“What would be nice is to bring that level of care back,” he says. “I know as a product of that previous one I know it would be really great to bring that back for the community and the surrounding communities of Southeast Alaska.” 

Last year, he founded the group “Leo’s Hope” and invited partners to bring that level of care back to town, lobbying local and state government for support and filing as a non-profit organization.

But while rehab services are an important part of his platform, they won’t be his sole focus, should he be elected to the assembly. 

Jimmy is also concerned with serving Sitka’s unhoused and in furthering government-to-government relations between Sitka Tribe and the city. He wants to facilitate more communication with the public by holding regular town hall meetings. 

“Basically, working on communications between the Tribe, the Police Station, the Fire Department,” and other local organizations and non-profits, Jimmy says. “This will be open to everything. Whatever issues the departments are going through, or want to talk about, or want help to try and hash it out, what would be the best way to attack it, and come up with a solution.” 

He says he also wants to be at the table to help figure out how to keep Sitkans safe as the coronavirus pandemic continues. He says he thinks the assembly has done a good job so far in addressing the pandemic. 

“The city, they jumped on it pretty quickly, put us in an emergency state when it hit,” he says. “It’s kind of a hard thing to deal with, because and we’ve got to get back to a normal somehow, and this is our new normal. And it’s hard for everybody.”

But as far as recent assembly action, whether pandemic related or not, he doesn’t want to openly criticize any recent decisions at the assembly table. 

“Sometimes it’s handled well, sometimes it’s not handled well,” he says. “But from what I see it’s not an easy job, and I think they’re doing the best they can.” 

And when asked what the biggest challenge the city faces, Jimmy thought it was being positive and open with communication.   

“Moving forward in a positive manner, being able to treat people with respect in these positions and getting respect back,” he says. “Communicating with the public, finding out what their issues are and being able to come up with a solution for those issues.”

Leo is the first to signal a run for one of two open seats on the Sitka Assembly. The three-year terms of both assembly members Richard Wein and Steven Eisenbeisz end this fall. Gary Paxton has also filed to run for another two-year term as Sitka’s mayor.

Sitka’s municipal election is Tuesday, October 6.