Frederick Olsen Jr.
How many years have you lived in Sitka and in Alaska? Lived in Sitka since November 2018. Born and raised in Southeast, Alaska, moved away for school and work, and have been back for 11 years. Total about 30 years.
Occupation: Executive Director, Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission (SEITC)
Family: Together, my fiancé and I have three children from her first marriage–a 13 year old boy and two girls (one 10 years old and one 8 years old). We plan to marry on August 22nd. We also have a cat named “Bob”.
Community involvement, past and present:
Since 2019 and currently, I serve on the Board of Directors for Friends of SJ Museum as well as Brave Heart Volunteers and serve as one of two Sitka Tribal members on the Sitka Community Health Council. I have produced, edited and hosted a weekly one hour radio program “Gunalchéesh!”, heard Thursday nights on KCAW Sitka (kcaw.org) and Friday nights on KSTK Wrangell (kstk.org) which promotes Alaska Native languages. Since early 2019 I have regularly attended Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s Natural Resources Committee meetings and since become a member of Sitka’s Kayaani Commission at the beginning of this year. (The Kayaani Commission began in 1997 in response to the USDA Forest Service’s plans to create “Special Forest Products” monitoring guidelines for the Alaska Region.) While living in Kasaan (2009-2019), I was an active community member. I have held government positions (below) and was active in Kasaan’s local tourism efforts. I was a regular member of the Prince Of Wales Island Visitors Committee involved with island-wide tourism and production of the annual Prince Of Wales Island Guide.
Have you previously run for public office? When and what office?
In Kasaan, Alaska, on Prince of Wales Island, I was appointed to a seat on the Kasaan City Council (2011) and was elected to a full term (2012-2015). In 2015, I lost in the election but was appointed by the Kasaan City Council to fill a vacancy one month later.
Previous government or other relevant experience:
In Kasaan, I was an Organized Village of Kasaan Tribal Council member (2010-2018) and was Tribal Vice Chair (2014-2017) and Tribal President (2017-2018). As the OVK’s representative to the SEARHC Board (2011-2018), I became Vice Chair (2014-2017) and Chair of the Board (2012-2014). From 2014 to 2018, I was OVK’s representative on the Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission (SEITC) . From 2015 to 2018, I was the SEITC Chair. While in Sitka, since May 2019, I have worked for SEITC as Outreach Consultant and since May 2020 as Executive Director. My job is to use the government-to-government relationship between the US federal government and federally-recognized Tribes in order to protect Tribal lands and waterways for future generations.
Why are you running for a seat on the Sitka Assembly this year?
This is a tough time for everyone. If elected to the Sitka Assembly, I would be an attentive member dedicated to finding concise resolutions. I have learned that a person cannot find answers alone, but we can all do our part. I believe in being informed of all matters at hand. I will always read the packet before each meeting. I will listen to each citizen and I will be respectful. I believe if we prepare and focus, we can make effective decisions.
What are your top two priorities if elected?
What is your philosophy for funding city government (including enterprise funds, electricity, water, etc)?
The government must carefully utilize funds to ensure the safety of all citizens. Funding city government is about balance, not enough funding and the city cannot function properly. Over taxing the citizens is not good either, since many already deal with our high cost of living. City government has to be vigilant regarding state and federal program opportunities as well as private foundation grants.
Should we fund the Sitka School District to the maximum allowable by state law?
The assembly has seen unprecedented challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic- both in keeping Sitka safe and distributing federal financial relief throughout the community. Do you believe the assembly’s responses to the coronavirus pandemic have been satisfactory? Why or why not?
Assuming the situation doesn’t change by 2021, what should the assembly’s proactive response be to keep the community safe and safeguard the economy?
We need a good working relationship with local health care providers. We need to have accurate, up-to-date information when making decisions. Sitka needs an Assembly that follows science and medical experts. We need a strong economy, too, but we will only have an economy if we look out for each other.
What role should the assembly play in addressing social justice and racial equity in Sitka, if any?
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?