CLOSURE – Amanda Baggen sets a candle on the Indian River foot bridge Tuesday night in memory of her sister Jessica, who was killed 24 years ago at age 17 while walking home through the nearby woods. Dozens of Sitkans turned out to leave candles and flowers on the bridge Tuesday night after Alaska State Troopers and Sitka Police announced earlier in the day they had solved the 1996 murder case using DNA evidence. The suspect, Steve Branch, 66, a former Sitka resident, killed himself at his home in Austin, Arkansas, shortly after being contacted there by officers Aug. 3. Baggen said she thinks this is the last year she will be lighting candles at the bridge, something she, her friends and family have been doing every year for the past 24 years. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Election Choices

The adage “expect the unexpected” has seldom been as apt as it has proved to be in this year’s election for governor.

Gov. Bill Walker, facing stiff opposition for re-election, was dealt a body blow when former Sen. Mark Begich won the Democratic primary, which Walker had bypassed.

Begich was widely seen as a spoiler who would steal votes from Walker and ease the path to the governor’s office for conservative Republican Mike Dunleavy. Then, with the forced resignation of Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott and Walker out of the running, the one-time spoiler has become, in our opinion, our best hope to keep the state on an even keel in still-perilous times.

We liked and admired Gov. Walker for his brave decision to use reserves from the Permanent Fund to stabilize government finances after cutbacks in services proved insufficient to stop the state’s slide toward fiscal bankruptcy. He’d have won our vote if he were still a candidate.

The voters’ choice is now Begich or Dunleavy, and Begich has our vote.

As mayor of Anchorage and in six years as U.S. Senator, Begich has shown himself to be an able public servant. More to the point, he has not, to our knowledge, made campaign promises that cannot be carried out.

Mr. Dunleavy is promising a full Permanent Fund dividend and a budget balanced through government cutbacks, resource development and no new taxes. Great promises, but in our opinion completely unrealistic. He’s made no promises to Sitka – he is the first major candidate for governor since statehood not to campaign here – but from what we have learned, state funding for education is one of those items that he has in his sights for cutbacks.

Dunleavy as governor would not, in our opinion, be good for Sitka.

For state House, our choice is Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins. With three terms under his belt JKT has proved to be an effective advocate for Sitka. His membership in the bipartisan majority coalition, which is likely to prevail in the House after this election, gives him an increasing leadership role in the House as well as an influential voice for the state’s coastal communities.

We expect Ballot Measure No. 1, the Stand for Salmon initiative, to pass handily in Sitka. This is a town built on salmon, and when the public hearing on the initiative was held here, no one came forward to talk against it.

If passed it will enact salmon habitat protections that far exceed those already in place. That would be a good thing, but a close reading of the pages of fine print in this proposed law suggest that this may be a case where we should be careful what we wish for. Public and private projects of all kinds will be more expensive and take longer to build, and there will be a cost to that. Will the new protections be worth the cost that all of us will pay if this passes? Time will tell.

We will comment finally on the race for U.S. House. Don Young has earned the right to a happy retirement with our thanks for his many decades of service for Alaska.

This may not be the year for that to happen, but his bright young challenger, Alyse Galvin, is our choice for Congress in this election.


You have no rights to post comments

August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:


On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to pick up their daily paper at drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers, and subscriptions were extended without charge.

As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

The expiration date of all subscriptions has been extended without charge for an additional four months.

We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

The single copy price is again 75 cents. The news racks do not require coins to open, but we ask that the 75 cents for a non-subscription single copy sale be paid with coins in the slot.

– The Sitka Sentinel Staff


Login Form



Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 8-12-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 11:20 a.m. Wednesday.

New cases as of Tuesday: 62

Total statewide – 3,881

Total (cumulative) deaths – 27

Active cases in Sitka – 22 (16 resident; 6 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 16 (12 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 164.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 




August 2000

Classified For Rent ads: 3-bdrm. apt. 1-1/2 baths $800; 2-bdrm trailer $645 plus tax; Unfurnished 2 bdrm. on HPR $735; 1-bdrm. on HPR $588; 3-bdrm, 2-1/2 bath home on Edgecumbe Dr. Excellent view, deck, garage $1,300.

August 1970

Trollers and their skippers reporting in at Cold Storage Tuesday were Lark Star, John Polivka; Emma, William Sanders; Majestic, George Rohrer; Needlefish, Wayne Westover; The Peasant, Van Baker; The Spencer, Charles Raleigh ....