Ruffner doesn’t win legislative approval

The support from commercial fishermen and local governments apparently prevented a nominee for the Alaska Board of Fisheries with no commercial fishing experience whatsoever from being confirmed by the Legislature.

The nominee, Robert Ruffner, lost on a 30-29 vote.

The strongest opposition came from Sen. Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak, who spent nearly nine minutes of the 35 minutes of discussion about Ruffner talking not about Ruffner’s lack of qualifications, but about how much unprecedented support Ruffner had.

He used the word “unprecedented” eight times during his testimony.

“I’m concerned about this nomination (because of the) very unprecedented independent and lobbying expenditure spent on attaining this nomination. Unprecedented to have radio ads run, to have a fleet of  lobbyists, to have local governments sending down on multiple trips folks to advocate for somebody that has no position,” Stoltze said.

Stoltze also mentioned another applicant for the position whose name did not get put forward.

“I think we’ve had a potential nominee, an outstanding woman from the North Slope who lived in my district and who  is now in Anchorage, has a Harvard degree, ran one of the largest companies in the state,” he said.

That applicant is Kristin Mellinger, who serves on the board of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association.

Support came from several senators and representatives, including Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, who called out others for condemning Ruffner for what he called “guilt by association,” referring to some groups who have called for reductions in personal use bag limits.

“Every fish in (Ruffner’s) freezer is a personal use fish,” Micciche said. “If people in our joint session were judged by the fringe groups that support us, none of us would be sitting here.”

Rep. Les Gara, R-Anchorage, spoke to the governor’s stated intention to eliminate biased seats on the Board of Fisheries.

“The governor has taken the position that he does not believe in having partisans on the Fish Board anymore, where you’re a commercial fishing partisan or a sport fishing partisan, and I hope we all support subsistence fishing in this state. I think what he wants to see is somebody who will stand up for all user groups fairly, and if I look at the statute, that’s what it says,” Gara testified. 

The governor will now put forth another name, and that person will serve until the next legislature either confirms or rejects the nominee.

Cristy Fry can be reached at

More in Opinion

Point of View: Finding something beautiful in Homer

The library established the story walk early this year. I discovered this… Continue reading

Point of View: South Peninsula Hospital is preparing for pandemic

“Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.” Several times on… Continue reading

Letters to the Editor

HEA ‘fair share’ should give one pause Dear Editor and Eager Readers, Electrical… Continue reading

Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships logo provided.
Point of View: Overcome adversity one step at a time

Well, now what? For the last few years MAPP has been developing… Continue reading

Point of View: Let’s be ahead of the curve to flatten the curve

Growing up in Alaska has been a gift. I was encouraged and… Continue reading

Letters to the Editor

Help is on the way Fellow Alaskans, The hard-working men and women… Continue reading

Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska Chief Medical Officer. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services
Point of View: COVID-19: The time to act is now, before widespread community transmission

As reports of an illness began spreading across the United States, reactions… Continue reading

A Remington Deluxe Model 5 manual typewriter. (Homer News file photo)
Editorial: What future will we create?

In my other writing career I write science fiction. That art has… Continue reading

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks to members of the media before welcoming Juneau residents to the Governor’s Open House on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)
Point of View: We Alaskans will endure coronavirus pandemic

As our nation and the world experiences the life-altering impacts of the… Continue reading

Most Read