Rachel Moreno is one of three candidates vying for two open seats on the Sitka Assembly. Sitka’s municipal election is Tuesday, October 5. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Moreno)

Three candidates are running for two open seats on the Sitka Assembly, in the municipal election this October. In our final interview with candidates, KCAW spoke with Rachel Moreno.

Rachel Moreno was born in Sitka – she moved away for a while, but came back in 1998 and has been here ever since. She says public service runs in the family.

“My dad was the late Phil Moreno Sr., and he helped influence the creation of Raven’s Way. And my mother, she’s a little rebel,” she says. “She joined the Alaska Native Brotherhood in Sitka and became Vice President and President of the Alaska Native Brotherhood. And our whole family puts in a lot of time and effort, keeping these two organizations going, the ANB and ANS.”

Moreno says her years of living in Sitka and her experience serving on boards and government will be an asset, should she be elected.

“Especially now, during our COVID pandemic, we are addressing the most serious issue we’ve had to face in decades,” she says. “And I would like to be a part of assuring and ensuring that our citizens come out of this healthy and intact.”

She served on the Sitka Tribe of Alaska Tribal Council for eight years. She served as vice chair, and represented Sitka Tribe on the SEARHC board of directors. She also was vice president of the board for the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association. She traveled to Capitol Hill frequently, pushing for Congress to pass the NATIVE Act in 2016, which directs federal agencies to support Tribes in the tourism industry.

“And it’s not asking them to fully fund the tourism ventures, but to make every effort within their agency for these Tribes to be a part of the national parks in the federal lands,” she says.

Moreno sees the coronavirus pandemic as the biggest challenge facing Sitka today, and says she’ll rely strongly on health experts to determine what kinds of legislation she’ll support, should she be elected to the Assembly. 

“Listening to the experts and the CDC is the only way we can make beneficial and informed decisions. And so I would hope that we’re allowed to do that,” she says, “To bring whatever we need to do, whether it’s legislatively or through mandates, whatever they need to do, we really need to rely on the experts.” 

She’s also interested in addressing housing, the cost of living in Sitka, and making more resources available for local students. 

“With this COVID, kids are facing so much more than just whether or not they turn in their homework assignments. They’re facing isolation, they’re facing fear, they’re facing loss of loved ones, the loss of a parent’s income,” she says.

And she hopes to work with, not against, the Assembly and the public. 

“We need to think about what’s truly important,” she says. “The Assembly can make lives of Sitkans better if we can work together and not not be pulled apart by these issues. These issues are issues that are not, should not be made weapons. They should pull us together.” 

Rachel Moreno is one of three candidates running for two open seats on the Sitka Assembly. Sitka’s municipal election is Tuesday, October 5.

Editor’s Note: Raven Radio will bring you continuing coverage of Sitka’s Municipal Election in the coming weeks. Interviews with the candidates, questionnaires and statements will be available online at the KCAW Election Hub in early September.