Former Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott has died at 77

Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott at a fundraiser for the 2018 election. (Photo courtesy Josh Corbin)

Former Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott has died of an apparent heart attack Friday morning. He was 77.

Mallott, a Democrat and Alaska Native, won office in 2014 with former independent Gov. Bill Walker after the two formed a “unity ticket” and lasting friendship well into office. Walker confirmed Mallott’s death to the Anchorage Daily News this morning.

“I will miss him greatly,” the former governor told the paper. “He was an incredible, life-changing experience for me.”

Mallott abruptly resigned from office shortly before the 2018 elections due to what was later revealed to be inappropriate conduct with a woman. Mallott maintained a low profile after his time in office, but today is being remembered for owning his mistakes and making significant strides in his time serving the state.

“I think the work that he did outweighed any of the mistakes he may have made, and I hope people will remember him for just the tireless work he put in serving his people, the greater community of Alaska. He believed in our state and wanted the best for our state, and he did his best to see that happen,” Richard Peterson, president of the Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, told the Anchorage Daily News.

Peterson told the paper that Mallott suffered a heart attack at his home in Juneau on Thursday night and was flown to Anchorage for treatment, where he died this morning.

Juneau Democratic Sen. Jesse Kiehl tweeted that “Alaska lost a tremendous leader.”

“Byron was a groundbreaking public servant,” Kiehl wrote. “Humble enough to own his mistakes in life, he led the way as a treasured member of our community.”

In the 2018 election, Mallott emphasized the importance of equality in the governor’s race and noted that great progress was made in improving the state’s relationship with Alaska Natives under the Walker administration. The administration stood up a tribal advisory council and signed several landmark agreements between the government and tribes.

After Mallott’s resignation, he was replaced by Lt. Gov. Valerie Davidson, who’s also Alaska Native and served previously as the state’s commissioner of the Department of Health and Social Services.

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