Former Haines Representative Bill Thomas has filed a letter of intent to run for state office in 2014.
Thomas filed late Friday. He did not indicate which office he will seek, but he is eligible to run for either House or Senate in districts representing Juneau. House District 33 includes downtown Juneau and Douglas Island, as well as Gustavus, Haines, and Skagway. It is part of Senate District Q.
Thomas says he’s leaning toward running for Senate.
“In the event there’s an open seat, I can go for either one,” Thomas told KHNS radio in Haines. “But I’m looking more toward the Senate seat than I am the House. Been there, done that.”
Juneau Democrat Dennis Egan currently holds the Senate seat, while Democratic Minority Leader Beth Kerttula has the House seat. Neither one was available for comment over the weekend. Both have filed letters of intent to run for office in 2014. Egan’s letter says he’ll seek to retain his Senate seat. Kerttula did not specify which office she will seek.
Filing a letter of intent allows candidates to begin raising money.
Whichever seat he runs for, the Republican Thomas says if he wins his party’s primary it will be challenge to unseat a sitting lawmaker in a historically Democratic district.
“The redistricting, oh yeah, it pushed me out of my old district,” he said. “Lost my villages and put me in downtown Juneau. So it’s a whole new challenge.”
In 2012, Thomas was defeated by Sitka Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins under a temporary redistricting map that put Haines and Sitka in the same district. State Superior Court Judge Michael McConahy entered final judgment on the updated 2013 Alaska redistricting map on Friday.
Following the loss, Thomas said he wasn’t likely to run for state office again. A year later, the 66-year-old commercial fisherman says he’s changed his mind.
“I thought about lobbying but then I thought I still have time to serve the people,” he said.
Thomas served eight years in the House. He was co-chair of the House Finance Committee, which is largely responsible for crafting state budgets.
- Bans on plastic grocery bags have been cropping up across Alaska’s remote communities. Cordova’s ban went into effect last year. But so far, the larger cities in the state have yet to adopt one.
- Things are not looking good for Haines’ Alaska State Trooper post. Trooper Director Col. James Cockrell intends to reassign Haines’ one trooper position to Bethel. The decision isn’t final yet, but the community conversation about how to handle the loss continued at a Public Safety Commission meeting this week.
- A new study from a Alaskan epidemiologist looks at infants who were exposed to opiates before birth. Unlike previous studies, it goes beyond the sharp rise in cases for a portion of the population to explore what happens next.
- Commercial fisheries in Southeast Alaska have survived two years of state budget cuts but not without some changes. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Commercial Fisheries has cut some positions, ended some monitoring programs, and found some new funding sources.