Rebecca Himschoot, is among eight candidates running for one of two open Sitka Assembly seats. Himschoot is an educator who says her experience on boards and commissions will aid her at the assembly table.
Rebecca Himschoot has been teaching since 1994, mostly in Sitka, in classrooms and as a science and ESL (English as a Second Language) specialist at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary. She also spent some time as an education specialist for the National Park Service and in spent two years in Kuwait, setting up the education department for a science center.
She’s a former member of the Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development, appointed by Governor Bill Walker in 2016. She also served on Sitka’s Library Commission. She says she believes her experience on boards and commissions is an asset she can bring to the assembly table.
“I’ve watched how incredibly hard the assembly works,” she says. “I really admire those assembly members who do a lot of homework to get ready for each meeting. I just think that what I can bring at this point to the assembly is a little bit of experience — a deep interest in the welfare of Sitka. I see Sitka as a thriving community, but I think we can do even better.”
Himschoot says decorum is also an important part of the public process, and she says her experience as a teacher will help with that.
“There’s nobody who doesn’t want good things for our community. So how we get to those good things is the crux of the matter,” she says. “If we can respectfully learn from each other the steps that we all want to take, I think we can all benefit.”
Himschoot says the city’s marine haulout plan is a priority, as is being more proactive with the city’s budget.
“The assembly will always have to respond to things that have changed and the budget that’s before them, but I’d also like the assembly to more proactively direct in what they want the budget to look like in the, you know, set direction with the city: What will the budget look like in the future?” she says. “I have a lot to learn on budget. I’m not going to claim to be an expert on that but I’m eager to dig in and understand it better.”
And she thinks Sitka’s local boards and commissions need revitalization. These are the groups of citizens appointed to advise the assembly on specific areas of government, like planning or the city’s harbors. There have been vacancies in many city commissions over the past couple of years.
“It’s one really important avenue to hear from Sitkans,” she says. “I would like those boards and commissions to be elevated and either we don’t have them, or if we do have them, let’s really listen and let the people speak through the boards and commissions.”
But as a former commission member, she says she knows it’s a lot of work, and anticipates the same should she be elected to the assembly. She knows there will be a learning curve, but she says she plans to be proactive and to seek community input.
“I plan to go into the community and maybe visit with people who aren’t normally in my circle,” she says. “I really want to hear what folks are thinking. I want to be an accessible assembly member and I intend to be a hardworking assembly member.”
Rebecca Himschoot is among eight candidates running for one of two open seats on the Sitka Assembly.