Heidi Zemach for Seward City News –
City residents shouldn’t expect much change on the city council following the upcoming 2014 municipal elections.
Four Seward City Council incumbents have applied to run for re-election, and will face only a single challenger, Dr. John French, in the 2014 Municipal Election October 7th. The deadline to file was Friday, August 15th. Council members (and Vice-Mayor) Marianna Keil, Dale Butts and Ristine Casagranda are running for the three seats available for two-year terms, along with French. The seats will go to the top three vote-getters. Councilmember Iris Darling, who was appointed by the council following the death last winter of the late councilmember Vanta Shafer, has decided to run for the remainder of her one-year seat.
Dr. French is an environmental toxicologist with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, and doctorate in Biological Chemistry. He has served on the Seward Historical Commission for six years, and served as the city’s representative on the Prince William Sound Regional Citizen’s Advisory Board for 10 years. Upon running for a council seat last year, French said he was interested in serving because he felt that his knowledge, skills, experience and abilities might be valuable in addressing some of the more technical questions coming before the council at the time; including, but not limited to matters such as hot-mix asphalt, coal burning, and the sewage lagoon.
“I have widely recognized expertise in biochemistry, toxicology, fisheries, seafood science and nutrition and marine science,” French said. “In general I can add factual material to any matters dealing with public environmental health and safety.” French is a retired professor of the UAA School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences; he directed the UAA Fisheries Industrial Technology Center in Kodiak for five years; and is a founding member of the Alaska SeaLife Center. He also owns and runs Pegasus Environmental Solutions-Alaska, where he assists nonprofits and government entities in reviewing and commenting on environmental permits, assessing, managing and mitigating environmental risks.
Dale Butts is a ship captain and has been an instructor for the past decade at AVTEC’s Alaska Marine Training Center. He’s also a 25-year volunteer with the Seward Volunteer Fire Department, and has been a planning and zoning commissioner. He was appointed by the Seward City Council to serve a one-year term in November, 2013. The one-year seat was vacated when then vice mayor/ council member Jean Bardarson was elected City Mayor in October, 2013, replacing Mayor David Seaward, in a contest between Tim McDonald and the longtime council woman.
Keil has served numerous terms on the council and works at the Seward Legislative Information Office. Casagranda owns and manages a coffee and lunch shop inside the local Laundromat, and has a motel, and a downtown rental. If elected, this would be her third term.
Iris Darling owns and runs Sweet Darlings inside the famous historical Seward store, Brown & Hawkins. She has been leasing the rest of the store since it was closed last fall in the hopes of selling the family business to the new store owners.