SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Senator Elton Announces Resignation from Legislature
Will Work for Alaska in D.C. After 2 Decades in Elective Office


March 02, 2009

Senator Kim Elton (D-Juneau) today sent a letter of resignation from the Alaska State Legislature to Senate President Gary Stevens. His resignation is effective at 5:00 p.m. today (Monday).

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced Elton's appointment as Director of Alaska Affairs for the Interior Department. Elton will report for duty in Washington, D.C., March 16.

"The decision to leave our home, the community, and the state was difficult for Marylou and me," Elton said this morning, "but this is a new way to serve Alaska and the nation." He added he has talked to the Secretary, Chief of Staff, and Deputy Secretary of Interior and he is "very comfortable with the balance they intend to strike between stewardship and economic development - especially with regard to the gas pipeline."

Elton's resignation ends 19 years in elective office. He was elected twice to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly, twice to the Alaska State House and three times to the Alaska State Senate. He also served as executive director of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, assistant state ombudsman, and senior staff to Lt. Gov. Terry Miller in the administration of Governor Jay Hammond. He began his professional career as a newspaper reporter in Fairbanks during the oil pipeline construction years, was city editor in Anchorage, and editor of his hometown newspaper, the Juneau Empire.

Senate President Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak) said Elton will be missed. "Kim has been a great public servant to our state. His wealth of experience and insight has been an invaluable contribution to our bipartisan working group," said Stevens. "In his new position, he will be an important ally and contact for Alaska in the Federal Government."

"It's been an honor and privilege to serve Juneau and Alaska on the assembly and in the legislature," Elton said. "It's also been humbling. I've learned so much from my colleagues, from my great staff, and from Alaskans across the state. I've also learned public service mandates continuing education and the folks I've met from across the state will continue to be resources when I need to learn more about the myriad of issues the department deals with in Alaska."

In a prepared statement Governor Sarah Palin said, "Senator Elton pledged his allegiance to President Obama last summer. We wish him well as he moves on and hope that he uses this job for Alaska's benefit - to advance the state's oil and gas issues, including the natural gas pipeline, and to work diligently to remove the barriers imposed upon all states that want to open up their shores to off-shore drilling. I hope he can represent Alaskans by opening ANWR, conveying the importance of responsible mining development, and building roads- -­ all issues crucial to the future of our state."

"From my very first conservation with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, I have emphasized the importance of maintaining the position of Director of Alaska Affairs at the Department of the Interior," Murkowski said in a prepared statement. "I congratulate Kim on his appointment and I look forward to working with him on strengthening Alaska's unique relationship with the federal government."

In a prepared statement Sen. Mark Begich said, "As a former commercial fisherman, newspaperman and long-time state legislator, Kim Elton has a broad depth of experience as a result of his nearly 50 years as an Alaskan. He'll need to rely on every bit of that knowledge as he helps the Obama administration and its Interior Department understand the unique needs of Alaskans as the Interior secretary's right-hand man on Alaska."

Begich said, "I've known Kim for many years to be a knowledgeable, diplomatic and open-minded public policy maker who puts the interests of his state first. I look forward to working with him in Washington to advance Alaska issues, from a gas pipeline to subsistence management."

The Department of the Interior manages more than 200 million acres of land in Alaska. Department agencies include the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. These and other department agencies are involved in issues as diverse as endangered species applications, gas pipeline issues, and offshore oil drilling decisions.

Governor Palin has 30 days to nominate a replacement for Senator Elton, who must be accepted by the remaining nine Senate Democrats. Senate leadership will keep Sen. Elton's staff in place during the transition to ensure constituent services can continue and to track and monitor legislation and budget issues.



Sources of News:

Senate Bipartisan Working Group

Office of Sen. Lisa Murkowski

Office of Sen. Mark Begich

Office of the Governor


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Ketchikan, Alaska