A Haines Republican is the first candidate to file for Sitka’s new House seat. The district also includes more than a dozen smaller Southeast communities, such as Pelican, Kake, Angoon and Port Alexander.
Bill Thomas has put in his paperwork for the 2012 primary election. He’s spent the past seven years representing House District 5, which includes about 30 small Southeast Alaska cities and villages from Metlakatla to Cordova. Redistricting combines Sitka, which is now part of District 2, with much of Thomas’ current district. The new number is 34.
He says he knows it will be a difficult race, since Sitka will be the largest community in the district.
“It’s going to be a challenge but it’s nothing any different than going to 30-some community seeking election or re-election. I guess I get to make one stop instead of an additional five or six,” he says.
Sitka is currently represented by Wrangell Republican Peggy Wilson. Her hometown is in a new district that includes Ketchikan. If she runs for re-election, she could face Ketchikan Republican Kyle Johansen. He faces a recall effort organized by members of his own party.
Thomas is a commercial fisherman, former lobbyist, and a board member of the Sealaska regional Native corporation. He says he thinks he’ll do well in Sitka.
“I expect to get a challenger, so I have to work a little harder. But I believe with my background, leadership skills and leadership position that I have. Being a Vietnam veteran, with the Coast Guard base there, a fishermen, which is a huge community there. And there’s a good population of Alaska Natives there also,” he says.
Thomas is co-chairman of the House Finance Committee. That puts him in charge of assembling the state’s operating budget, and gives him influence on the capital projects budget.
He says he’ll be running on his record.
“I think we’re achieving a lot in the district as far as meeting the needs of rebuilding the infrastructure we have. And trying to meet the other goals of the communities. I don’t set an agenda. They tell me what they want and I believe I’m in a position to continue to help the district, whether it’s my old one or the new one,” he says.
Thomas filed paperwork for his old district as well as the new one. That’s because the redistricting plan faces challenges in court.
Ketchikan Republican House member Kyle Johansen has also filed for re-election.
The election is in 2012, with an August primary and a November general election. Other candidates have until next June to file.
- Gov. Bill Walker says he wouldn't go through the hassle of calling another special session this year if he didn't expect Alaska legislators to pass the bills on his agenda. But Walker faces an uphill battle in selling skeptical senators on his new tax bill.
- The bow of an abandoned boat could be seen this weekend drifting up and down the Gastineau Channel between Lemon Creek and the Douglas Bridge. A broadcast warning to mariners was issued Saturday, but no further action was being taken as of Sunday afternoon.
- With a surge in vehicle thefts in Anchorage, some residents are taking matters into their own hands. One group mobilizing through Facebook is reuniting stolen vehicles with their owners. Members of the A Team, as they call themselves, say they are filling a void left by overworked police.
- The Haines area used to be a Tlingit stronghold, ruled by an alliance between the prosperous Chilkat and Chilkoot people. A new Haines Sheldon Museum exhibit explores how the Native territory gradually gave way to white settlement in the late 1800s. The exhibit will anchor the museum’s upstairs space for at least two years.