Long quits council bid citing possible conflict
Clerk says name will still appear on ballot in Tuesday’s elections
Photo courtesy Rich Long
Council candidate Rich Long says he has dropped out of the municipal elections, but the city clerk says it’s too late.
City council candidate Rich Long announced he is no longer running for public office in Tuesdays municipal elections.
“I have just received notification that I am a finalist for a job position, of which if I am selected would prevent me from taking office,” Long said in an email he sent to the city clerk and the Valdez Star Sunday night. “Therefore I have decided that the right thing to do for the voters is to withdraw from the race.”
Long is one of thirteen candidates – including two incumbents – hoping for one of three terms opening on the Valdez City Council.
Long, along with candidates Nate Smith, Ruth Knight, Nichole Tifft, Wanda Clark, Hotai Williams, David Lyle, Dennis Fleming and incumbents Mike Wells and Karen Ables, attending last Wednesday’s “Meet the Candidates” forum at city council chambers, answering questions about his candidacy that where submitted by voters.
Councils candidates Selah Bauer and Kyle Hoffman were unable to attend.
While Long said he felt ethically bound to withdraw from the council race, Sheri Pierce, who is the city clerk and the town’s election official, said it is too late for Long to officially withdraw from the council race.
“By law – local ordinance – you can’t withdraw after the filing period closes,” Pierce said in an interview Monday. “I can’t withdraw him. If elected, he would have to decline to take the oath of office.”
Long declined to divulge the job position he said would make him ineligible for an elected council position.
However, city employees are prohibited from sitting on elected and appointed city commissions. Further, the city has been on an intensive search to fill the open harbor master position, which it has had trouble filling permanently for the last several months.
“Well, I’m not speaking to what it is,” Long said when asked point blank if he is in the running to become the next harbormaster in Valdez, and he hinted he may have been seeking other jobs within the City of Valdez.
“That may not be the only case,” Long said of the open harbor master job.
Long, the owner of Long’s Marine, has long been in marine related industries in Valdez. Last summer, Long was hired as the city’s temporary community service officer, assisting police and Mike Lindquist, the city’s animal control officer, as needed.
Ballots were printed soon after the closing of the August filing deadline Pierce said.
“The day after it closes I have to send them (candidates names) to the printer,” she said.
Additionally, the programmer for the State of Alaska’s voting machines must have a complete list of names appearing on the ballot prior to the election.
Ballots have been available for absentee voting since September 16.
Long said it was hard to publically withdraw.
Tony Gorman photo
Valdez voters questioned candidates for city council and school board during the Valdez Star “Meet the Candidates” forum a week ago Wednesday.
“I do so with a heavy heart as I have a passion for wanting to serve in this elected position. I wish to apologize to the voters and am very humbled by all of the support that I have received,” his announcement said.
While Long says he is no longer in the race, 12 other council candidates are hoping enough Valdez voters will check the box next to their name to earn a seat on the council.
There are also five candidates vying for two open seats on the board of education.
Board hopefuls BJ Williams, Jessica Vincent, incumbent Steve Brockman are looking for three-year terms, as are former city council members Alan Sorum and Joe Prax. There are two open seats.
There are no propositions on the ballot.
Polls open at all three precincts at 7 a.m. and close 8 p.m. Tuesday, October 1. Precincts are located at city hall, the teen center and the fire station at Robe River Subdivision.
Pierce said anyone needing assistance at the polls should contact her office at city hall.