Monday, March 03, 2008
Janet Brand Jumps Into Eagle River, Alaska Assembly Race As A Write-In Candidate Against Incumbent Bill Starr And Anthony Lemons
Janet Brand (pictured at left), who actually ran against Bill Starr for one of the Eagle River seats (Section 2, Seat C) on the Anchorage Municipal Assembly in 2007, is back in it again this year - only this time as a write-in candidate. She announced her intent on KTUU Channel 2's 5:00 P.M. News on March 3rd, 2008.
During her interview with news director John Tracy, Brand explained that polling done by Ivan Moore indicated that it wasn't as hopeless as it appears; she claims she's within striking distance, and that closing the gap is simply a matter of educating the voters how to vote for a write-in candidate. But what triggered her decision was the controversy involving incumbent Bill Starr. A recording of a telephone conversation between Starr and another Assembly member, Dan Coffey, surfaced last week which made it appear that the two were discussing questionable fund-raising tactics and possible attempts to inappropriately influence the Anchorage Police Department Employees Association (APDEA). Since that time, we've learned that another Assembly member, Allan Tesche, recorded the conversation, but instead of promptly turning it over to the appropriate authorities, is believed to have given it to Aaron Selbig, who played it during his talk show on the IBEW-subsidized KUDO 1080AM (Tesche continues to refuse to say whether or not he gave the tape to Selbig).
But Janet Brand decided that even this marginal appearance of impropriety on Starr's part, although not illegal, raised sufficient ethical issues that, in her opinion, called Starr's character into question. Brand also feels that Starr did not show proper respect for constituents or the process.
When asked why she didn't file within the normal window like other candidates, Brand stated that, although she had some philosophical disagreements with Starr, she did not sense sufficient community dissatisfaction with him at that point to warrant a candidacy. So apparently she was intellectually honest enough not to run for office just to get publicity, but to fulfill a need. But Brand now believes that Starr's political troubles have created a market for her candidacy. However, she failed to explain why she didn't think Anthony Lemons didn't fulfill the need for an alternative to Starr, and in an incredible and uncharacteristic moment of journalistic oversight on his part, the normally-savvy Tracy failed to even broach the subject.
Since the awkward telephone coversation was made public, Bill Starr has confronted the problem head-on and engaged in damage control measures. He not only issued an apology, but pledged to return all financial campaign contributions received from the public so far as an additional act of contrition to restore public confidence in his political stewardship. He intends to fund his campaign only with his own personal funds from here on out.
Additional sources of information on Janet Brand:
(1). March 30th, 2007 Anchorage Daily News article profiling last year's race.
(2). March 2007 Anchorage Daily News video interview with Janet Brand.
(3). February 8th, 2007 Alaska Star article profiling the race.
Commentary: It appears that Janet Brand has honorable intentions in launching this write-in candidacy; she's not intending to grandstand. But there is a reason why we have rules on when and how one can file a candidacy. Janet Brand chose not to file during the designated window. Consequently, I recommend Eagle River residents restrict their choice to the two candidates who did file during the designated window; Bill Starr and Anthony Lemons, unless APOC actually finds legal fault with Starr. Don't reward impulsive behavior.