Byron Mallott filed as a candidate for governor today, making him the first Democratic candidate to officially jump into the race.
Mallott has held leadership roles with the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation and Sealaska Corporation. He has also served as mayor of both Juneau and Yakutat, and is the first gubernatorial candidate in over a decade to have strong Southeast ties.
“Southeast is home. There’s just no question about it,” Mallott says. “Yakutat is where my campaign will begin, and it is where it will end — at home. Having said that, Alaska is many, many different regions and many different communities, both urban and rural.”
If elected, Mallott would also be the state’s first Native governor.
“I’m proud to be a First Alaskan, one of the aboriginal peoples of this great place,” he says. “But I’m running more than anything else because I’m an Alaskan first.”
Mallott says he’s still working on his platform, and he would not give out specifics yet. He says he is concerned about Alaska’s fiscal situation and that the referendum to repeal a tax cut on oil companies has made an impression on him. But he won’t say whether or not he supports the referendum movement. He also says he wants to focus on education, climate change, and Alaska’s position as an Arctic nation, but that he plans to do voter outreach before developing his policies.
“I intend during this campaign to travel, to meet with Alaskans hopefully everywhere that they live — in their homes and in their communities — and talk about their priorities and how strongly they feel about their aspirations as they look to Alaska’s future,” Mallott says.
He’s the third major candidate to jump into an increasingly crowded field. Incumbent Sean Parnell is the Republican candidate, and former Valdez mayor Bill Walker is running as an independent.
State Senator Hollis French has been exploring a run as a Democrat, but has not formally committed to a campaign. A candidate from the Constitution Party, J.R. Myers, has filed as well, as has Gerald Heikes, who ran for governor as a Republican in 2010, but received less than one percent of the vote in the primary.
- Heli-skiing has long been a controversial topic in Haines. The interests of the industry often clash with people who live near heliports and don’t want the noise disturbing their peace and quiet. But there’s another group that’s impacted by helicopter noise: mountain goats.
- In the Northwest Arctic, caribou hunting has been contentious for years. Alaska’s largest herd continues to decline while tensions have emerged between rural subsistence users and outside hunters.
- From the Aleutian island of Akutan to the arctic village of Kiana, 13 communities have been crowned champions of a rural energy competition. The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced that it will help these communities cut their energy use by 15 percent by training local utility providers.
- It’s costing 14 percent more to take the ferry to and from the Lower 48. The higher fare is part of another round of tariff increases aimed at boosting income and equalizing rates across all routes.