Gov. Bill Walker filled three key positions in his administration on Friday. Heidi Drygas will be the new commissioner of the Department of Labor. Darwin Peterson will be Walker’s legislative director, and Larry Hartig will stay on as commissioner for the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Born and raised in Fairbanks, Drygas went to undergrad at UAF and received her law degree from Willamette University. For the last ten years, she has been a lawyer for the Alaska District Council of Laborers. She also has an awesome food blog and won the Alaska Democratic Party’s annual chili cook-off contest last year.
The new legislative director, Darwin Peterson, was most recently Sen. Bert Stedman’s chief of staff. He’s well liked in the Legislature, particularly among Republicans, which is important given that the make-up of the administration so far appears heavy on Democrats.
Finally, few will likely have a problem with Walker’s decision to keep Larry Hartig on. He’s been the commissioner of DEC since 2007, and by accounts, he’s done a good job.
Here’s the press release announcing the appointments:
Governor Walker is pleased to announce the appointment of Heidi Drygas as Department of Labor Commissioner, Darwin Peterson as Legislative Director and the retention of Larry Hartig as Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner.
“I am thrilled to welcome these talented individuals to my team,” said Governor Walker. “Each provides a unique skillset and perspective that will serve them well in their positions.”
Heidi Drygas, Governor Walker’s pick for Commissioner of Department of Labor, has a long history working on issues involving employment law and labor relations. Most recently, she spent nearly ten years as the General Counsel for the Alaska District Council of Laborers. Born and raised in Fairbanks, Drygas received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and her Juris Doctor from the Willamette University College of Law.
“Heidi has a great deal of experience in labor relations, and I am certain that she will be a great asset to our administration,” Governor Walker said. “With such high demand for good paying jobs across the state, it’s absolutely essential to have leaders like Heidi looking out for our workforce.”
Heidi is also an active member of Alaska’s food writers’ community, with a local blog, Chena Girl Cooks.
Darwin Peterson, Governor Walker’s newly appointed Legislative Director, has worked in the Alaska Legislature nearly 20 years, most recently as the Chief of Staff for State Senator Bert Stedman. Peterson spent most of his legislative career working in the Senate Finance Committee, and served as the Deputy Legislative Director for Governor Frank Murkowski.
“Darwin is well-respected throughout the Alaska Legislature, and brings with him a wealth of knowledge about our state government,” Governor Walker said. “I am pleased to welcome him as our new Legislative Director and look forward to working with him in the years to come.”
Governor Walker’s final announcement was the retention of the Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner, Larry Hartig. Hartig has served as Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation since 2007, and has also served as a trustee on the board of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation since 2009. Prior to joining the State of Alaska, Mr. Hartig spent over 20 years as a private practice attorney, working primarily on environmental, natural resource, and commercial matters.
“I am pleased Larry will continue to serve the state as Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner,” said Governor Walker. “His commitment to public service, and longstanding knowledge of environmental and natural resource issues, make him a great asset to the people of Alaska.”
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