Walker names co-chairs of his transition team

ANCHORAGE — Former state Sen. Rick Halford and Ana Hoffman of Bethel have been named co-chairs of Bill Walker’s gubernatorial transition team.

Walker said his team is being assembled in recognition of a constitutional deadline that the governor be sworn in Dec. 1.

“It seems to appear to be prudent to do what we’re doing,” he said.

At a press conference last week, before Parnell conceded the governor’s race, Walker and his Democratic running mate Byron Mallott introduced Halford, a Republican, and Hoffman, a Democrat and co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives board of directors.

The team’s goal is to explore a range of broad topics facing a new administration and gather people from around the state to discuss pressing issues.

The co-chairs said policy topics anticipated to be covered in the process include climate change, economic development, fisheries, consumer energy and corrections, as well as natural resources and revitalizing the Alaska Army National Guard in rural communities.

Walker said possible replacements for administration officials will not be part of the process. As for the Dec. 15 due date for the governor’s budget, he said he would use Parnell’s budget as a starting point.

The candidates struggled to expound on what appears to be a vague transition process. Asked what the end result of the team will be, Mallott said that’s something the campaign had pondered, and added the goal is to hear Alaskans’ voices.

Parnell initially was considered the favorite in the race over Walker, who finished second behind Parnell in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary. 

Walker bypassed this year’s primary after opting to gather signatures to qualify as an unaffiliated candidate.

The race tightened after Walker merged his campaign with that of Mallott, who won the Democratic gubernatorial primary in August.

 

To join campaigns with Mallott as the lieutenant governor candidate, Walker dropped his membership in the Alaska Republican Party. The so-called unity ticket was seen as providing a more formidable challenge to Parnell.

 

During the campaign, Parnell also was dogged by criticism that he did too little too late in handling allegations of sexual abuse within the Alaska National Guard that emerged in 2010, a characterization he disputed.

 

Walker was criticized by Parnell as having contradictory views and no specific plans. Parnell and his supporters also questioned the merged campaign, asking how a social conservative, such as Walker, could govern with a more liberal second-in-command.

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