Walker makes appointments on first day in office

Updated: Here’s a list of Gov. Bill Walker’s new appointments. Loosely speaking, the term “acting” is kind of a try-out. Also keep in mind that all commissioners and the attorney general must be confirmed by a majority two-thirds of the Legislature.  Following the list are press releases about the new DHSS commissioner designee, the new Deputy Commissioner Marty Rutherford, and the new acting commissioner for Fish and Game Sam Cotten, the three on the list who hadn’t been working for the state., or who hadn’t gotten his own press release already. Noticeably absent is Craig Fleener’s name, who many speculated would be Walker’s choice for Fish and Game commissioner.)

  • Val Davidson, designee commissioner of Department of Health and Social Services.
  • Amy Erickson, current director of DMV, now acting commissioner of the Department of Administration.
  • Grey Mitchell, former deputy commissioner now acting commissioner of the Department of Labor.
  • Craig Richards, designee for attorney general.
  • Brig. Gen.Mike Bridges, current and future acting adjutant general of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
  • Marty Rutherford, deputy commissioner of DNR, and also acting commissioner of DNR until Mark Myers starts in January.
  • Fred Parady, former deputy commissioner now acting commissioner of the Department of Commerce.
  • Ron Taylor, former deputy commissioner of Corrections, now acting commissioner of the Department of Revenue Corrections.
  • Mike Hanley, current commissioner now acting commissioner of the Department of Education.
  • Sam Cotten, acting commissioner of the the Department of Fish and Game.
  • Gary Folger, current commissioner of Public Safety will be staying on.

Here are the press releases.

Press release about Valerie Davidson, Gov. Bill Walker’s pick for DHSS commissioner.

“I promised Alaskans that, once in office, one of my first tasks would be to expand Medicaid,” Walker said. “Valerie Davidson is, bar none, the consummate expert on the topic. We have a lot of work to do in ensuring that more than 40,000 Alaskans get the health care coverage that they need.

I look forward to sitting down with Valerie and hammering out a plan for the coming weeks.” Valerie “Nurr’araaluk” Davidson is an enrolled tribal member of the Orutsararmiut Native Council (ONC). Davidson has worked for over 15 years as a national policy maker on matters affecting Indian health.

Most recently, she served as the Senior Director of Legal and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, where she represented Alaska Native health needs at federal and state levels. Davidson served as Chair of the Tribal Technical Advisory Group to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from its inception in 2004 until August 2014. She represented all tribes over a period that spanned the terms of several Secretaries of Health & Human Services and under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Davidson was also the spokesperson, chief political and legal strategist for ANTHC’s Dental Health Aide Therapy Program, the country’s first mid-level dental program.

Davidson served for 11 years as the Technical Co-Lead Negotiator of the Alaska Tribal Health Compact and served on a team to negotiate agreements with the Veterans Administration that allow rural veterans to seek care in their home communities. Valerie also negotiated a tri-party agreement to streamline rural sanitation construction projects with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the State of Alaska and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

Davidson also served as Chair of The Foraker Group, Chair of the Alaska Commission on Children and Youth, and a member of the Alaska Health Care Commission. She currently serves on the U.S. Department of Justice Advisory Committee on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence and as a Trustee of the First Alaskans Institute.

Davidson earned her juris doctorate, with a certificate in Indian law, from the University of New Mexico School of Law, and a bachelor’s degree in education with a minor in bilingual education from University of Alaska Southeast. Davidson, a Yup’ik, was born in Bethel.

Press release about Sam Cotton, the new acting Fish and Game commissioner, and former and new Deputy Commissioner of DNR Marty Rutherford.

Governor Walker is pleased to announce the appointment of Sam Cotten as Acting Fishing & Game Commissioner.

“Sam has a long history of public service in Alaska,” Walker said. “I’m confident his strong fisheries background and legislative experience will guide us through this critical transition period. I thank Sam for coming out of retirement to answer the call to serve his state.”

Cotten is among those being considered for a permanent commissioner appointment.

Cotten has served on a number of boards, including North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, Alaska Commercial Fishing and Agriculture Bank, Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute committees, International Pacific Fisheries Commission Advisor and Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association. He also has been an advisor in fisheries negotiations between the U.S. and USSR.

Cotten served for 16 years in both chambers of the Alaska State Legislature. From 1989 -1990, he served as House Speaker. Cotten is a U.S. Navy veteran who served two tours in Vietnam. He is a life-long Alaskan, born in Juneau. He lives in Eagle River.

Governor Walker is also pleased to announce the appointment of Marty Rutherford as Department of Natural Resources Deputy Commissioner.

“Marty is a natural fit for this position,” Walker said. “I know and trust Marty. She will hit the ground running and do an outstanding job.”

Rutherford most recently served as special projects manager for LINC ENERGY, and has 19 years of state government experience, including her time at DNR deputy commissioner under the Palin administration.


12 thoughts on “Walker makes appointments on first day in office

  1. LuvALASKA

    Looking forward to see Tara Jollie leading the Department of Commerce. She can get things done and her passion for rural Alaska is felt by everyone. We want her back.

  2. Carolyn Clift

    Valerie Davidson is an excellent pick. I hope she takes a good look at the corruption in that department, and makes an effort to support families and Alaskan lifestyles.

  3. Lynn Willis

    I am not so sure. The Federal delegation has requested an explanation of how the Army I.G. missed the mark when compared to what the National Guard effort revealed and we haven’t heard the results of the financial review by the National Guard Bureau. Lawsuits for wrongful termination are still unresolved. I bet the press will now be asking Governor Walker and his Attorney General about what was said in the campaign regarding this special prosecutor effort and the release of documents. I don’t think they can dig a big enough hole quite yet.

  4. Anonymous

    Is it customary to have so many acting commissioners – as opposed to designees? Also, is it unusual to be silent on who is leaden two key departments – DEC and DOR?

  5. Brandon

    Does anyone know what is happening at the Department of Environmental Conservation? I didn’t see any announcements today.

  6. AH HA

    Come on Lynn, they are burying this issue as quickly as possible… look out back, the hole is nearly finished.

  7. CPG49

    Congratulations to Val Davidson. What a welcomed fresh face. Under Parnell’s administrationm, Commissioner Streur uled the department in a despicable manner with callous disregard for the department’s needy constituency as well as the health care provider community. He was inept and did little for the betterment of the state.

  8. Lynn Willis

    I do hope General Bridges can help now restore the good name of the Alaska National Guard. The final step required is to appoint the special prosecutor who can finally bring credibility to the concerned who reported problems, justice to the injured, exoneration to the wrongfully accused, and punishment to the guilty.
    Also, I would hope the legislature will seriously review the policy that allows Mike Bridges, or any other political appointee, to be both a State Commissioner and a General Officer. That policy of a dual appointment guarantees the presence of undo political influence over the military command structure by significantly blurring the line between military authority and civilian oversight of that authority. The presence of a “two star state commissioner” appears to have contributed more to the recent problems more than providing a solution.

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