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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Rodney Dial for Mayor of Ketchikan

By Barry A. A. Dillinger


September 17, 2019
Tuesday AM

It’s not very often that I feel compelled to personally do something about the local political process outside my normal civic duty of voting.  Normally, I read the platforms and I keep up with the local scuttlebutt, but I generally don’t voice my support through lawn signs, bumper stickers or letters to the editor.  I’ve lived in Ketchikan for the past three years and something has changed.  I saw an extremely dysfunctional relationship between the city Borough Assembly members and others in the local governmental system and noted that much of it centered around one person.  More on that in a moment.

On the radio one night in 2016 while driving home from work, I caught the tail-end of a debate or interview with a few candidates who were vying for Borough Assembly seats and I was struck by the words of one of them, namely Rodney Dial.  Not knowing Mr. Dial from Adam, I got home and researched him online, only to find that he was exactly what the Assembly was missing, as far as I was concerned.  I am an avid Trump supporter and I make no apologies for that.  Mr. Dial reminded me so much of our president, not so much in what the media has identified ad nauseum are Trump’s faults, but more so in Mr. Dial’s drive and determination to do what’s right by his constituents.  That spirit is so easily identifiable in this young man.  As an Army veteran, I admire his service to our country.  As the nephew of a 35-year veteran of the police force outside of Manhattan, I admire his service in Blue.  As a Non-Commission Officer and manager for many decades, I admire his leadership skills and abilities to make difficult decisions and to always seek another answer to any problem.  Where most bureaucrats would be satisfied to merely throw more taxpayer cash at the problem, Mr. Dial is an out-of-the-box thinker who was integral as a Board member in saving taxpayer cash, not squandering it.

Now to my other point…there was a consistent issue that arose between the Borough Assembly members and the President of the School Board Michelle O’Brien (who is running against Mr. Dial).  While I do not know her personally, and I’m aware that she has only lived locally for a little more than a decade, she initially seemed to come across as a very down-the-middle type of individual who did what was necessary to fund the schools locally, but wasn’t very sympathetic about the burden placed on the local populace when it came to these financial mandates.  Ms. O’Brien is the first to point out that she wishes the political process to remain civil, yet the relatively short history of her inter-department dealings with the local government appear to demonstrate quite the opposite.  From her scathing and sometimes downright mean-spirited and defensive opinion letters to the local papers, to her apparent combative treatment of people like Agnes Moran and Dan Bockhorst, Ms. O’Brien comes off as anything but civil.  Her personal attack on Mr. Bockhorst, for example, referring to him as a “good ole’ boy” and an “old man” with “old ideas” was really insulting to me when I read it recently.  I don’t know either Ms. Moran or Mr. Bockhorst, but would be curious to know how they felt about Ms. O’Brien’s current run for mayor of Ketchikan.  I recently read a post that she made on Facebook regarding Mr. Dial’s alleged “attack” on her.  She was very coy to point out the fact that she had helped him during his “Doomsday Prepper” days with some video or broadcast.  I don’t know about most people engaged in politics, but to me, THAT sounded suspiciously like a dig at Mr. Dial…a veiled reference to prepping…something that perhaps many would view as an “extreme” point of view.  It wasn’t very Mayor-like, nor was it civil.  I don’t mind the normal back-and-forth of big-league politics, but that particular barb stuck with me ever since I read it.  I can read between the lines and that just smelled of “gotcha” politics.

To add one more thought, Ms. Moran had pointed out rightly in an opinion piece about the severe decline in reading and math scores in our schools during Ms. O’Brien’s tenure and was lambasted for her critique.  Perhaps there was something more to her opinion than just a miserly type of governing.  Perhaps it was more about saving taxpayer money for a decline in school board oversight and results.

For these reasons, I have thrown my support behind Rodney Dial for Mayor of Ketchikan.  A seat of such importance (particularly when viewed through the lens of a new governor’s administration that has a reputation of budget hawking) needs a mature, stable, driven, accomplished and fair-minded person whose main focus for the community is on its successes as well as its nearly-forgotten middle- and lower-middle class families!  We’re part of Ketchikan, too.

Barry A. A. Dillinger
Ketchikan, Alaska



Editor's Note:

The text of this letter was NOT edited by the SitNews Editor.


Received September 16, 2019 - Published September 17, 2019

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