By Jenny Neyman
Though the Legislature did not confirm Gov. Bill Walker’s appointment of Robert Ruffner to the Alaska Board of Fisheries, several other Walker appointees from the Kenai Peninsula fared better in a joint session held Sunday.
Ruffner, of Soldotna, was voted down 30 to 29, but five other peninsula residents were confirmed by unanimous margins. Three positions are reappointments.
Dr. Stephen Humphreys, who practices with Kenai Spine in Soldotna, was confirmed to the Alaska Medical Board after first being appointed in 2014.
Gus Sandahl, chief of the Kenai Police Department, will maintain his seat on the Alaska Police Standards Council, which he’s held since 2011.
And Linda Hutchings, of Soldotna, returns to the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Board, on which she’s served since 2005.
David Edwards-Smith, of Soldotna, is a new appointment to the new Alaska Board of Massage Therapists. The board came about after a law was passed in 2014 requiring all massage therapists to be licensed through the state if practicing in Alaska.
And Lisa Parker, of Soldotna, had her appointment to the University of Alaska Board of Regents confirmed, though not as easily as the others. Sen. Bill Stoltze, of Chugiak, objected to the confirmation, which opened the matter for discussion.
His objection, though, didn’t have anything to do with Parker, personally, nor her credentials. She’s a government relations manager and lobbyist for Apache Corp., and former planning director for the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Stoltze objected to a Kenai Peninsula resident being appointed to the board, instead of someone from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
It’s the same objection lodged against John Davies, of Fairbanks, by Wasilla Rep. Wes Keller. There’s no one from the Mat-Su on the Board of Regents, and hasn’t been since the 1920s, Stoltze said. Keller said it’s about time that changed.
“With all due respect, it’s way overdue that Mat-Su needs representation on the Board of Regents. We send roughly 2,000 students a year into the system and I think that the Board of Regents benefits from broad representation,” Keller said.
Keller and Stoltze withdrew their objections, and both Davies and Parker were confirmed to the Alaska Board of Regents.
When her nomination was announced, Parker had said that she intended to work toward the betterment of the entire university system, with a particular interest in sustaining the university to help grow the workforce in Alaska.
“In all the fields that I have worked in here in Alaska, needing Alaskans to work is important,” she said. “It’s a strong university system that we have on a statewide basis, and I hope to help continue to maintain that at this point, and in the future help it to grow.”