Two Dillingham council members to challenge Ruby for mayor

Aug 11, 2015

Holly Johnson and Tracy Hightower each declared candidacy for Dillingham mayor Tuesday.

On the first day to declare, two sitting Dillingham council members announced they will be running for mayor against incumbent Alice Ruby. KDLG's Dave Bendinger has more:

Audio transcript below:

Tracy Hightower and Holly Johnson both filed with the city clerk Tuesday morning. For Hightower, who has been on the council for four years, the main issue is making Dillingham a more affordable and attractive place to live:

"I think there's a lot of work the city needs to do," he said. "I mean we're overspending in a lot departments. Also we're way overtaxing our citizens. It's getting a lot of people to move out of town."

Perhaps the only issue that the council has done much wrestling over in the past couple of years has been Dillingham’s proposed annexation, which Mayor Alice Ruby supports. After it was struck down in the court in 2014, Dillingham resubmitted the petition with a 4-2 vote of the council in January. Johnson and Hightower were the two dissenting votes. Hightower says he hasn’t changed that position:

"I do disagree with the direction we're taking with the annexation," said Hightower. "I think we need to be a little more regionally based. We need to share in those profits with everybody that's connected to the proposed annexed area."

Tracy Hightower says he has been in Dillingham for 11 years, works as a team lead at the AC store downtown, and adds that he has no political party affiliations. He will not be running for reelection of his current council seat E.

Holly Johnson is in her second year on the council, elected to seat A, which is not up for reelection this year. Johnson says she wants to lead some change in the community and in how the city does business:

"I definitely think we should be collaborating more with our tribes. I also think that we should be communicating better with our citizens. And I do think that the city as a whole needs to collaborate better within its own agency," Johnson said Tuesday.

Johnson also voted against annexation and says an option to share revenues with other communities should have been explored more. Two other issues she says community members are talking to her about are interactions with police and the problem of narcotics in town. Johnson says she’s running to help address those and other important issues:

"Once you can identify the issues that a lot of community members have then you can at least take them to the table and try to institute change," she said. "Of course there's no guarantee because as the mayor, it's your city council that does your voting, you're only the tie-breaker. I think that most of the people in the community know that I work hard and when I decide that I'm going to do something, then I do it, and follow through on things."

Johnson has lived in Dillingham since 2007 and works as a benefits specialist at BBNA. She is a veteran of the US Navy, Army, and National Guard in Florida and New Mexico, and serves as the vice commander of Dillingham American Legion post.

The filing period is open till September 1 to run for mayor, city council, and school board seats. The election is October 6.

The city’s website has more details.

Reach the author at dave@kdlg.org or 907-842-5281.