FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 15, 2017
Anchorage – Earlier today, District 40 State Representative Dean Westlake (D-Kiana) submitted his resignation. This comes in the wake of multiple reports of sexual harassment by Rep. Westlake against current and former legislative staffers.
“I know this wasn’t an easy decision for Rep. Westlake to make, but given the circumstances, I think it was the right decision,” said Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham). “Rep. Westlake’s hard work and commitment to serve his district and constituents should be commended.”
Earlier this month Speaker Edgmon and House Majority Leader Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage) called on the legislature’s Human Resources Manager to investigate the sexual harassment allegations leveled at Rep. Westlake. Additionally, they are encouraging all victims to come forward and make a formal report.
“It has become clear through this process that the Legislature’s culture, policies, and institutions do a poor job of protecting workers. Everyone must feel safe, respected, and heard, and know their rights and options for recourse if they’ve been mistreated,” said Majority Leader Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage). “We are committed to designing and implementing a clear policy to train every legislator and staff so there is no confusion about putting it into practice. This is crucial to restoring faith in the institution of the Alaska Legislature.”
A bicameral working group is presently working on recommendations for the Alaska Legislature’s sexual harassment policy, and increased annual training and prevention measures will be in place when the next legislative session begins in January.
“This was the right thing to do for the people of Alaska. We need leadership in Juneau that recognizes the dignity of all people,” said Rep. Ivy Spohnholz (D-Anchorage). “The actions taken by House leadership and the Legislative Council to revamp sexual harassment policies and procedures are a step in the right direction. Working together we can change a culture that has brushed inappropriate behavior off for too long.”
For more information, please contact Alaska House Majority Coalition Press Secretary Drew Cason at (907) 575-2068.