(Story was updated Feb. 26 at 6:00 a.m.)
Sam Kito III is at work today as the newest member of the Alaska Legislature.
House Democrats Tuesday morning confirmed Sam Kito III to the legislative seat vacated last month by Juneau Rep. Beth Kerttula.
Minority Leader Chris Tuck said Democrats were unanimous in their decision.
“He had to answer some very tough questions both in the public and with the governor and with us, and all through that he was consistent and he spoke from the heart. And I think that speaks a lot for a person.”
Gov. Sean Parnell on Friday appointed Kito to the seat.
The governor asked Democrats to take their vote on the House floor. But the minority met Monday night in closed caucus then Tuck announced the decision Tuesday on Gavel Alaska, statewide television coverage of the legislature.
With pen in hand, Tuck said party confirmations have been announced by letter for the past 25 years.
“And with that right now I’d like to sign a letter to both the governor and to the Speaker of the House announcing Sam’s replacing Beth Kerttula in the House Democratic 32 seat,” Tuck said.
Kito will fill in for Rep. Harriet Drummond on the Education as well as Community and Regional Affairs committees. Drummond is absent from the capitol for a family medical emergency. Tuck said Kito will continue on Community and Regional Affairs when Drummond returns.
He inherits Kerttula’s longtime staff members, Ken Alper and Hannah McCarty. Alper was one of nine Juneau Democrats to apply for the seat. Tongass Democrats nominated Kito, Jesse Kiehl and Catherine Reardon.
Kerttula left the job on Jan. 24 for a Stanford University fellowship. It took a month to fill the seat, but Tuck said the small House Minority did not lose any strength while down a member.
House District 32 encompasses downtown Juneau and Douglas, Petersburg, Gustavus, Skagway, and Tenakee Springs. Kito said he would have been a candidate for the seat if it had been open.
(Editor’s Note: Updated Monday afternoon with additional information.)
Tongass Democrats nominate Kiehl, Kito, and Reardon for Kerttula’s vacant seat
Sam Kito III named as new Juneau representative
Next step: House Democrats to confirm Kito appointment