House District 38 Democrats name three possible replacements for disgraced legislator

House District 38. (Alaska Division of Elections)

A week after Rep. Zach Fansler’s resignation became official, Democrats from House District 38 have sent Gov. Bill Walker three names for consideration, including to Alaska Native women.

The list of candidates includes Yvonne L. Jackson, Raymond “Thor” Williams and Tiffany Zulkosky. The panel was headed up by former legislative aide Ben Anderson-Agimuk, who resigned from the Legislature to focus on the duties of filling the position.

After the tumultuous appointments processes surrounding House District 40 and Senate District E–caused in large part by slates of controversial and inexperienced candidates–the candidates put forward by House District 38 should be a relief for the governor’s office, who’s charged with picking an appointment, and House Democrats, who’re charged with confirming his appointment. The candidates bring a wealth of experience, time in public office and completed college degrees according to brief biographies put out by the Alaska Democratic Party:

  • Yvonne L. Jackson was born in Bethel, Alaska and raised in Kasigluk. She has lived in the YK Delta for a total of 23 years serving the people of District 38 in Workforce Development. Yvonne currently works for AVCP as a Tribal Workforce Development Director.
  • Raymond “Thor” Williams has been a resident of Bethel for over 20 years. He currently serves on the Bethel City Council and was Mayor of Bethel from 2005-2006. He also serves on the Lower Kuskokwin School District Board.
  • Tiffany Zulkosky was born and raised in Bethel and is of Yup’ik and Polish decent. She is currently the Vice President of Communications for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation. Tiffany holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Communication from Northwest University and Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Alaska Southeast.

From what we’ve heard, initially review of the candidates hasn’t returned any immediate red flags, a fair deal better than the two prior attempts to fill legislative vacancies.

House District 38 is in Southwest Alaska and includes Bethel.

What’s next

Traditionally, the process for filling legislative vacancies has relied on cooperation between local officials of the former member’s political party and the governor. A local political group typically, but not always, forwards three names, and the governor typically, but not always, selects one person to be appointed to the Legislature. State law doesn’t require the cooperation between the two, only requiring that the governor appoint someone from the same political party and for that pick to be approved by legislators of the same political party.

Facing inexperienced, unqualified or scandal-ridden candidates put forward by local districts, Walker has opted to either go off-list or ask for additional names from a district, causing a mountain of scandal last week.

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