Juneau’s Rep. Justin Parish won’t seek re-election

Another Juneau Democrat won’t seek re-election. Freshman lawmaker Rep. Justin Parish posted a short video announcement Tuesday on Facebook. This means the entire capital city’s legislative delegation will be in play this fall.

The news apparently came out of the blue.

“Hello friends and neighbors. I’m Justin Parish, your representative for House District 34 in Alaska,” Parish said in the video. “I’ve said from the beginning that I’ll run for re-election unless I’m able to find someone better than me. And now, after many conversations, I think I have.”

Parish endorsed his 52-year-old chief of staff: Rob Edwardson.

Rob Edwardson on Nov. 7, 2017. (Photo by David Purdy/KTOO)

“I actually wasn’t planning on running for the Legislature at all,” Edwardson said Tuesday afternoon.

He’s also a Juneau Assemblyman and has resigned his job as a state aide for Parish so he can run for state office.

“Rep. Parish earlier this year met with my wife and I out at our house and suggested it,” Edwardson said. “So, off and on we’d discussed it and I decided to go for it.”

Parish’s announcement means the entire Juneau delegation is now in play. Fellow Democrat Sen. Dennis Egan isn’t running for health reasons and Rep. Sam Kito III, whose House district encompasses downtown Juneau, said he won’t run because of cuts to lawmakers’ compensation.

Parish was elected to his first term in 2016. And Rob Edwardson has two more years in his term on the Juneau Assembly.

Edwardson wouldn’t say why Parish is bowing out.

“He’s the best one to answer that,” Edwardson said.

Parish didn’t respond to interview requests.

“He was saying all along that if he found someone who could do more for Juneau and more for Alaska than he felt he could,” Edwardson continued, “then he would support that person. And I’m proud to say that he found that person in me and I hope that I can live up to that.”

Parish offered no other explanation. Nor are there any apparent scandals. Staff of the legislature’s ethics committee that reviews formal complaints says proceedings are confidential until the committee issues a decision. The primary election is in August.

Fellow Juneau Assemblyman Jerry Nankervis has filed to run as a Republican.

The general election is in November.

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