Five candidates have thrown their hat in the ring to become the next manager of the City of Seward.
The Seward City Council will convene for a special city council meeting on June 12 to review candidates’ applications. Whoever becomes the city’s next manager will replace Janette Bower, who left the city last month to succeed Stephanie Queen as the city manager of Soldotna.
Among the candidates are the current executive director of the Seward Chamber of Commerce; a former Seward mayor; a real estate investor and former candidate for manager of the Haines Borough; a borough manager from Pennsylvania; and the former assistant finance director of Dillingham.
As part of their application, all candidates were asked to submit a personal statement explaining how they would incorporate themselves into “the Seward area, lifestyle, and the unique demographics of Seward, Alaska.”
Dr. Edgar Omegitjoak Blatchford is a former professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage who has previously served as the mayor of Seward, on the Seward City Council and as the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.
Blatchford holds a doctorate from the University of Washington School of Law, a Master of Science from Columbia University Journalism School, a Master of Arts from Dartmouth College, a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University and a doctor of philosophy from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
He ran to represent Alaska in Congress 2016, in 2020 and in 2022 and also ran for a seat on the Anchorage School District Board of Education in 2021. According to his resume, Blatchford is currently the chief research officer for Sharing Alaska LLC, out of Anchorage.
In applying to be the city’s next manager, Blatchford cited his deep ties to Seward, which he called “home.”
“I grew up in Seward, graduated from Seward High, returned to Seward after graduate school, served as mayor and ran the Mt. Marathon 23 times, including three times in the junior race,” he wrote in a letter accompanying his application. “I never won, but I always felt I did okay.”
Kat Sorensen is the current executive director of the Seward Chamber of Commerce. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Boston University and is expected to graduate this year with a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Alaska Southeast.
Sorensen is a former reporter at the Peninsula Clarion and currently serves as a member of the Seward Rotary Club, the Seward State Parks Citizen Advisory Board and the Providence Seward Advisory Council. She is also on the Seward Nordic Ski Club’s board of directors.
“I know how important it is to be well versed in the intricacies and specifics of the city’s budget, its operation, and staff,” Sorensen wrote in a personal statement included in her application. “In the years to come, I would incorporate myself further through civil service as the city manager and serve with efficacy and care for the betterment of the community-at-large.”
Susana Stinnett is a former assistant finance director at the City of Dillingham. She holds an associate’s degree in business from Western International University and a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Phoenix. Stinnett is also currently pursuing a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Phoenix, with three classes left to complete.
She has previously served as the city manager of the City of St. Mary’s, Alaska, and as the city manager of the City of Unalakleet. Stinnett said she would bring her experience as an Alaska resident for more than 30 years and eight years of public service to the position of Seward city manager. She also applied for the position in 2019.
“I acknowledge that, as a City Manager, I am a public servant and will serve the public in their best interest by enforcing and complying with city ordinances and the City Council’s directives and priorities I am entrusted with,” Stinnett wrote.
Samuel Sulkosky is a current borough manager in Kittanning and has previously served as the borough manager in Mount Joy, Columbia and Nanty Glo, all in Pennsylvania. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
If offered the City of Seward’s city manager position, Sulkosky said he would spend the first three months on the job getting up to speed on what is happening in the city before moving on to tasks like project development and grant funding. That may include conducting a walking tour and meeting with city staff and residents.
“A good manager develops good ideas but even more importantly, adopts good ideas from whatever source and makes that good idea on their own,” Sulkosky said. “I also believe that it is important to manage public relations and constantly express positive information and echo that positive information.”
George Zoukee is a real estate investor who previously worked for the U.S. Department of Transportation as an associate administrator for business and finance development. He holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Boston University Graduate School of Management and received a bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College.
In a personal statement attached to his application, Zoukee said has enjoyed previous travels in Alaska and has previously been offered the city manager position in Haines. He turned down that position, he said in his application, because of “negative facts” he found while researching.
“If selected, I would be extremely busy during my first few months getting to know the area, the staff and the residents of the community,” Zoukee wrote in his statement, adding that he would also brush up on Alaska municipal law.
The city council’s June 12 special meeting will be streamed live on the City of Seward’s YouTube channel. The full applications of all city manager candidates can be found on the city’s website at cityofseward.us.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at email@example.com.