ELECTION 2018: As filing deadline passes, a Legislative shake-up looms

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 10:49
  • From left, Stephany Jeffers, Aaron Weaver, and Doyle Holmes file their candidacies for state house seats Friday, June 1, 2018 at the state division of elections office in midtown. Friday was the last day to file for statewide office. (Loren Holmes/Anchorage Daily News)
  • Campaign signs alongside the Old Glenn Highway in downtown Eagle River on Friday, June 1, 2018. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)

Due to a combination of exits and ambition, three of four open seats in the Alaska Legislature are guaranteed to be filled by new people in January when the body reconvenes in Juneau.

The list of candidates to represent Chugiak-Eagle River was finalized Friday afternoon, and it includes a crowded field of political newcomers, established politicians and several potential primary punch-ups.

[READ MORE: Former Lt. Gov. Treadwell joins governor’s race battle against Begich, Walker, Dunleavy]

Moving on will be Sen. Anna MacKinnon, who presently represents Chugiak-Eagle River and JBER in the Alaska State Senate. MacKinnon announced her retirement from the senate this spring, saying she wants to spend more time with her family.

Moving up will be either either of a pair of Eagle River Republicans set to battle in that party’s August primary or a Democratic challenger running his first statewide campaign. As of the 5 p.m. filing deadline, Rep. Lora Reinbold (R-Eagle River) and Rep. Dan Saddler (R-Chugiak-Eagle River/JBER) had thrown their hats into the ring, as had Oliver Schiess, an Eagle River Democrat whose campaign website features a photo of the candidate at a July 2017 rally to urge U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski to vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act.

The Reinbold-Saddler race is likely to be one of the most highly watched this campaign season, with both having served multiple terms in the State House in advance of their upcoming Senate runs.

Here’s a rundown on other Chugiak-Eagle River area races as of the filing deadline:

House District 12

Rep. Cathy Tilton doesn’t have a primary foe to contend with, but she will face a high-flying challenger in the November general election in former Miss Alaska Stephany Jeffers, who works as an aerial acrobatics instructor. Jeffers was voted Miss Birchwood in 2008 and went on to win the state title; she now owns Cirque Boreal. In 2017, Jeffers filed to run for the Anchorage Assembly, but later withdrew her name from the race. Tilton, of Wasilla, has represented the Chugiak/Butte/Knik district since 2015.

House District 13

Saddler’s departure will pave the way for a primary clash between a trio of Republicans in Chugiak’s Craig Christenson, former Eagle River representative Nancy Dahlstrom and Eagle River attorney Bill Cook. Christenson is a retired podiatrist and former deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, while Dahlstrom served in the State House until 2010 before resigning to take a job in the Gov. Parnell administration.

Whoever wins the primary will face nonpartisan candidate Danyelle Kimp, who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. He owns Quake Brewing in Wasilla and is running on a five-plank platform that embraces support for education, affordable health care, responsible resource development, development of a long-term fiscal plan and support for the military.

House District 14

Three Republicans who have never held statewide office will face off in the Republican primary for Reinbold’s seat, with Eagle River’s Jamie Allard set to take on Eugene Harnett and Kelly Merrick in August. The winner of that race will move on to November’s general election to face Joe Hackenmuller, a nonpartisan candidate running in the Democratic primary. Allard is an Army veteran who according to the Juneau Empire accompanied Reinbold when the District 14 incumbent filed for the senate, while Harnett is a mobile marketing consultant from Eagle River. Merrick is a former aide to U.S. Rep. Don Young and stay-at-home mom whose husband, Joey, is the business manager for the Laborerers’ Local 341 union in Anchorage.

Hackenmuller also ran for the seat in 2016, losing to Reinbold by more than 1,400 votes.

Also Friday, several high-profile candidates threw their names in the ring for governor, including former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich and former Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell.

One local candidate filed for statewide office, with Eagle River’s Sharon Jackson filing to run in the Republican primary for Lieutenant Governor. To read more about the upcoming election, visit adn.com.

To see a list of all candidates for office, visit the Alaska Division of Elections.

Here’s a list of candidates who have filed to represent Chugiak-Eagle River in the Alaska Legislature:


District 12 (Butte/Chugiak/Eklutna/Peters Creek/Knik)


Cathy Tilton, Wasilla (Republican)

Who Filed:

Cathy Tilton, Wasilla (Republican)

Stephany Jeffers, Chugiak (undeclared running in Democratic primary)

District 13 (Chugiak/Fire Lake/JBER/downtown Eagle River)


Dan Saddler, Eagle River (Republican)

Who Filed:

Craig Christenson, Chugiak (Republican)

Bill Cook, Eagle River (Republican)

Nancy Dahlstrom, Eagle River (Republican)

Danyelle Kimp, Eagle River (nonpartisan running in Democratic primary)

District 14 (Downtown Eagle River/South Fork/Hiland/Eagle River Valley)


Lora Reinbold, Eagle River (Republican)

Who Filed:

Jamie Allard, Eagle River (Republican)

Eugene Harnett, Eagle River (Republican)

Kelly Merrick, Eagle River (Republican)

Joe Hackenmuller, Eagle River (nonpartisan running in Democratic primary)


District G (Chugiak/Eagle River/JBER)


Anna MacKinnon, Eagle River (Republicanj)

Who Filed:

Dan Saddler, Eagle River (Republican)

Lora Reinbold, Eagle River (Republican)

Oliver Schiess, Eagle River (Democrat)

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at editor@alaskastar.com or call 257-4274.

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