Caucus Looks Forward to a Close Working Relationship with the New Administration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DECEMBER 1, 2014

Anchorage – Earlier today Bill Walker was sworn in as the Governor of Alaska during a ceremony in Juneau. During that same ceremony Byron Mallott was sworn in as Alaska’s Lieutenant Governor. The 13 members of the House Democratic Caucus send congratulations to the new Governor and Lt. Governor and pledge to work with the Administration to solve the pressing problems facing Alaska.

“I have high hopes that the House Democratic Caucus can help the new Governor and Lt. Governor identify how best to address a number of significant issues including expanding Medicare, advancing a natural gas pipeline project and weathering the current fiscal crisis,” said House Minority Leader Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage). “Our caucus members are optimistic that the new administration will work hand-in-hand with the Legislature to ensure that the will of the people, expressed in the recent General Election, is advanced in the 29th Alaska Legislature.”

Governor Bill Walker and Lt. Governor Byron Mallott were both born in Alaska and have spent much of their lives in public service. Gov. Walker is a former City Councilman and Mayor of Valdez and a charter member of the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens Advisory Council. Lt. Governor Byron Mallott served as the Mayor of Yakutat, President of the Alaska Federation of Natives and Mayor of the City and Borough of Juneau.

“The experience of these two men, in both the public and private sector, will be invaluable to them as they face some daunting challenges over the next four years,” said House Minority Whip Max Gruenberg (D-Anchorage). “Declining oil production coupled with the unanticipated low price for oil means less money for the state of Alaska and some tough decisions for the new administration. However, we in the House Minority believe that if we work together the right decisions can be made to protect the interests of the people we were all elected to represent.”

The election of Bill Walker as Governor came after the historic decision by Byron Mallott to drop out of the race for Governor and become Walker’s running mate in the November General Election. Mallott was the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial candidate while Walker ran for Governor as an independent.

“I supported the Unity Ticket of Walker and Mallott as did Democrats across the state,” said Democratic Floor Leader Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage). “If they stay true to the people that voted them into office and work to protect the best interests of the State then the Walker-Mallott administration will be a success. I encourage the new administration to embrace bipartisanship and work with all stakeholders to improve this great state.”

Last month Bill Walker and Byron Mallott gathered together Alaskans from all walks of life as part of a transition team to help guide and shape the new administration. The team held a three-day conference in Anchorage that was open to the public and the media. The unprecedented move to conduct these kinds of meetings in public has garnered praise from members the House Democratic Caucus.

“This election was a lesson that Alaskans want political parties to put aside their labels and work together whenever they can. No one should drop their principles but to move Alaska forward politicians should not create conflict or stop good ideas just because they wear a different political stripe,” said House Finance Committee member Les Gara (D-Anchorage). “We have a job to prioritize vulnerable Alaskans, children, schools, jobs, and energy issues while facing a tough revenue situation that requires cutting waste and questionable projects.”

The new Walker-Mallott administration must hit the ground running as they are required to submit a budget for review by mid-December and the new 29th Alaska Legislature gets started in January.

“The current fiscal situation in Alaska is dire because of the decisions made by the Legislature and previous administrations to drastically change the oil tax structure in Alaska,” said House District 4 State Representative David Guttenberg (D-Fairbanks). “As a member of the House Finance Committee, I am anxious to see how the new Walker-Mallott administration plans to deal with this funding shortfall that demands reasoned thought and deliberation.”

Bill Walker is now the 11th person to serve as the Governor of Alaska and it’s the first time in the State’s history that the 2 top executives were both born and raised in the state.

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