The Division of Elections tallied 20,000 uncounted ballots on Tuesday. When workers turned the machines off at 10pm, unaffiliated candidate Bill Walker had increased his lead over Republican Gov. Sean Parnell to 4,000 votes. With a Walker win looking more likely, a transition team is being formed to prepare for a December 1 inauguration.
Bill Walker and his running mate Byron Mallott were quick to name the leaders of the transition team at a Wednesday afternoon press conference at their Anchorage campaign headquarters. First came Ana Hoffman – co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives, CEO of the Bethel Native Corporation, and a Democrat. Next, they introduced Rick Halford – former president of the state Senate, resident of Aleknakik and Chugiak, and a Republican.
But that’s about as specific as they got on the transition team. After already being pushed multiple times by multiple reporters to explain what exactly the team wanted to accomplish, Rachel D’Oro from the Associated Press again asked for a game plan. This time, from lieutenant governor candidate Byron Mallott.
D’ORO: I’m feeling that it’s just a little vague from what all of you have said. Concretely, what is this team going to do? Are they going to come up with a list of possible personnel? What is the end result going to be of this team?
MALLOTT: You know, that’s something that we’ve pondered ourselves. *laughter*
Walker and Mallott clarified that the transition team will not be tasked with selecting commissioners, but they themselves will separately name a cabinet within days of formally winning election. Walker said he had talked with Gov. Sean Parnell about what the logistics of a transition would look like.
Transition co-chair Ana Hoffman said her team’s focus will instead be on policy.
“Arctic policy and climate change, consumer energy, corrections, economic development, education, fiscal policy, and fisheries,” listed Hoffman. “Of course, these are all very large, significant topics.”
Co-chair Rick Halford added that the idea is to get stakeholders in those areas to hash out possible courses of action, and there will be more specifics once the race is called.
“A transition is vague, and it’s particularly vague when you don’t have final results, and you have a week or two to deal with the final issue. So yes, you’re right it is vague,” said Halford. “But you shouldn’t be afraid to ask a question, because the question’s vague and the answers may be vague.”
Walker himself echoed that point.
“I apologize for the vagueness of it, but this is a different process because of the nature of the timing,” said Walker.
Walker also emphasized that even though a transition team is being formed, the campaign is still waiting on further results from the Division of Elections. The Parnell campaign plans to do the same.
Elections workers will count more absentee and questioned ballots on Friday, with counts also scheduled for next week if necessary. More than 30,000 ballots still need to be processed.