Alaska Democratic Party officials in House District 40 have picked the three candidates to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Rep. Dean Westlake ahead of their Monday deadline.
The candidates are Leanna Mack of Utqiagvik, Sandy Shroyer-Beaver of Kotzebue and Eugene Smith of Kotzebue. Gov. Bill Walker will be charged with selecting the replacement, who will need to be confirmed by fellow House Democrats.
Here’s the bio information for each candidate as provided by the Alaska Democratic Party:
Leanna Mack of Utqiagvik
- A lifelong resident of Utqiagvik and current Deputy Advisor to the Mayor, External Affairs
- Previously worked at the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and Family of Companies and the Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation and Family of Companies in a variety of positions
- Current Chair of the North Slope Imagination Library and Captain of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Alaska Chapter
Sandy Shroyer-Beaver of Kotzebue
- Actively involved in local politics for over 30 years with strong family ties to the North Slope, current Council member (Seat E), City of Kotzebue
- Currently serves as the Office Manager of the Maniilaq Association in Kotzebue
- Previously worked at the Nana Regional Corporation and Nana Development for 22 years and has more than 20 years volunteer experience in the community
Eugene Smith of Kotzebue
- More than 20 years in public service, previous City Mayor, Councilman, Regional School Board and Tribal Board member
- Spent twenty years working at the Maniilaq Association and held the position of Chief Information Officer and previously worked at the Northwest Arctic Borough
- Current board member for the Kotzebue Fish and Game Advisory Board (27 years)
The Alaska Dispatch News reports that Mack and Shroyer-Beaver recently registered as Democrats in order to apply for the position. They had no prior party affiliation, according to the report. Shroyer-Beaver did so four days after Westlake resigned, and Mack reportedly did so during the application process.
The legislative session begins on Monday, but the deadline for replacement means a candidate could be named as late as the second week of session. The governor has 30 days from the resignation of a legislator to appoint a replacement from a field put forward by the legislator’s local party officials.
The House District 40 seat isn’t the only seat that will be vacant when legislators gavel in next week. Wasilla Republican Sen. Mike Dunleavy resigned his seat effective Jan. 15 to focus on his campaign for governor. The timing means his seat could be vacant for a third of the regular session.
The press release
January 10, 2018
District Party Leaders Nominate Three Candidates for House District 40 State Representative Vacancy
(Anchorage, AK) – House District 40 leaders announced today three names forwarded to Governor Bill Walker for the appointment to fill the vacancy left by Representative Dean Westlake’s resignation in December.
A nine-member Nominating Committee made up of local Democrats from House District 40 interviewed all eight candidates who had submitted applications by the deadline. Following the interviews this past weekend, the Committee submitted the below names for consideration:
- Leanna Mack of Utqiagvik
- Sandy Shroyer-Beaver of Kotzebue
- Eugene Smith of Kotzebue
Governor Bill Walker has 30 days from the date of the resignation to select and forward a candidate to the House Democrats for confirmation. Following the appointment, the candidate will represent House District 40 in the Alaska State Legislature.
Casey Steinau, Chair of the State Democratic Party said, “we are pleased with our local party members’ decision to interview all candidates, making this replacement process as transparent and fair as possible. We look forward to hearing the appointment announcement and to welcoming a new representative for House District 40 in the near future.”
For future reference, it would have been thoughtful to notify applicants for the District 40 vacancy of the committee’s selections prior to giving them to the media. Just common courtesy.