TMS Editorials come from the desk of The Midnight Sun’s publisher, Jim Lottsfeldt, and are typically independent from this site’s daily reporting. In this case, editor Matt Buxton contributed to this editorial and wholeheartedly agrees with its message.
The Senate Republicans in the Legislature have rejected Governor Walker’s pick, Randall Kowalke, to serve out the remainder of Mike Dunleavy’s Senate term. It’s actually a gift, and the governor should make the most of it.
Walker should ask for a new list from the Wasilla Republicans, just as the Senate Republicans are demanding, but he should also tell them that there is one qualification that is non-negotiable: Walker should demand a list of women.
It should be no problem for the Republican Party of Alaska, which has a better track record of promoting women into positions of leadership than their Democratic counterparts. Jan Faiks, Ramona Barnes, Lyda Green, Drue Pearce and Gail Phillips have all led their respective chambers. There is no question that there are qualified women candidates for this post.
The Alaska Legislature, like American society, is grappling with a long-time culture of workplace sexual harassment in an environment long dominated by men. Appointing more women to the Legislature won’t be a blanket fix for the problem, but it will create a Legislature that more closely reflects the society that it’s meant to represent. The strength of our society and our Legislature comes from a diversity of experience and perspective.
Look no further than the Jan. 26 special orders given by Reps. Tammie Wilson and Geran Tarr, who represent the opposite ends of the political spectrum. Tarr spoke with emotion about the many dozens of women who testified against sexual abuser Larry Nassar. Wilson, who had just gone public with her own experience of harassment at the hands of another legislator, spoke about the need to credibly address harassment within the halls of the Legislature.
For them, the serious action needed to make the Legislature and Alaska a safer place for everyone is personal. Their cause is not exclusive to women, but unfortunately it’s adopted by day by many men only to be discarded during nights of heavy drinking.
A Legislature that’s representative of Alaska should include more women, not to mention more legislators who are Alaska Native, African American, Hispanic and Asian. It’s got a long way to go—but Walker can help move it along. Because, to paraphrase Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s response when asked about the women who make up half of Canada’s cabinet level positions, “it’s 2018.”