Todd Gebler (photo provided)

A political newcomer has thrown his hat in the ring for school board in Sitka — or maybe he’s just thrown it over the backyard fence.

Todd Gebler lives next door to current school board president Amy Morrision, who suggested that he run for one of two open seats on the board this year.

Gebler wasn’t so sure.

“You know at first I was a little skeptical,” he said. “I don’t know anything about it to tell you the truth. I do know a couple of other past board members — some good friends of ours — and I talked to them, and no one really told me not to do it.”

School board politics fly a bit lower under the radar than those at the Sitka Assembly table, but the work is still very demanding, as the board has to manage chronic budget shortfalls in state government, which usually translate into high-pressure financial decisions about which school programs to keep, and which to cut back.

Gebler says Morrison and his other acquaintances who’ve served time on the board gave him fair warning.

“They gave me the unscripted version,” he said. “It’s not easy. It’s going to be hard and time consuming — stuff like that. It’s definitely something that I want to do.”

Gebler and his wife have an eight-year old son who will be entering Keet Gooshi Heen, and Gebler feels that this is a good time for him to become involved in the district. He says he has no agenda; his focus will be on doing what’s best for the kids.

Gebler is 51 years old. He has lived intermittently in Sitka for 12 of the last 20 years, working as a nurse, now in SEARHC Home Health. From a medical standpoint, Gebler says he’s been happy with the way the district has handled the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gebler has no prior experience in elected office. He has served on the board of the Betty Eliason Childcare Center.

Todd Gebler is running for one of two open seats on the Sitka School Board. Incumbent Amy Morrison is the only other candidate who filed by the August 5 deadline. Incumbent Eric Van Cise has said he will not seek another term.

As in recent years, KCAW will provide complete candidate profiles, and position statements — in their own words — on the KCAW Election Hub, which will go live in early September.

The municipal election in Sitka is Tuesday, October 5.