Gov. Bill Walker has appointed Tiffany Zulkosky to House District 38, marking the fastest and cleanest appointment in a session filled with difficult, drama-filled appointments.
Zulkosky, a 34-year-old Alaska Native woman, is currently vice president of communications for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation. She was one of three candidates put forward to the governor on Monday.
“Tiffany is the best person for this job. I’m proud and humbled to forward someone with such a compelling background and strong voice to House Democrats for consideration,” Walker said in a prepared statement. “If and when she is confirmed, the district will be represented well.”
In an interview with KYUK, Zulkosky talked about how public service has shaped her. She was elected to the Bethel City Council at the age of 23 and then voted mayor a year later, which lead into an a job with former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich as his rural director. She said she sees joining the Legislature as a way to give back to a community that has given so much to her.
“I just want to use those opportunities and that experience in a way that I can continue to give back to the communities in the region that have really invested in me,” she said.
Zulkosky has received high marks from House legislators behind the scenes and her confirmation is expected quickly.
The seat has been officially vacant for a little more than a week, following the resignation of Rep. Zach Fansler after he faced allegations that he assaulted a woman. Though the seat had only officially been empty for 10 days, Fansler was absent from the Legislature for more than two weeks before he decided to resign.
A speedy appointment
Walker’s announcement also noted that Zulkosky is, in fact, a registered Democrat and is, in fact, approved by local Democrats. Both points wouldn’t be particularly notable during a regular appointment process, but the last two vacancies have been marked with controversy.
Walker rejected an original slate of candidates provided by House District 40 with controversy and criminal charges surrounding some of the candidates. Walker eventually worked with the district, leading to the appointment of Rep. John Lincoln to the seat.
Similar concerns were raised about the initial slate of candidates to fill Senate District E, but Walker attempted to bypass local Republicans with the appointment of Mat-Su Borough Assemblyman Randall Kowalke. That invoked a Republican firestorm that lead to a snap appointment of one of the candidates from the original slate, Tom Braund, only for that candidate to withdraw after his inflammatory social media posts drew backlash.
Senate District E was eventually filled by district-approved candidate Mike Shower, which hit a snag when it turned out that Shower was not officially registered as a Republican. That’s been since sorted out, and Shower was confirmed by Senate Republicans this morning.