Surprising some, including me, Gov., Sean Parnell picked Sam Kito III to fill Rep. Beth Kerttula’s Juneau seat. Kito is currently a lobbyist working with his father Sam Kito, who is the longest serving lobbyist in Alaska. He has also worked as a civil engineer in the past.
The choice was between Kito, Jesse Kiehl, and Catherine Reardon. Kiehl currently serves on the Juneau Assembly and is an aide to Sen. Dennis Egan. Reardon is also a legislative aide to Rep. Andy Josephson and has served in the past as vice chair of the Alaska Democratic Party and as a division director in the Department of Commerce.
In an earlier column, I had predicted that Parnell would choose Reardon. Not to take anything away from the other two, but I had heard that Kiehl was probably the first choice of the Democrats and considered to be the most popular with the electorate. That, I said, was exactly the reason why Parnell would reject him.
And despite what others said, I didn’t believe that Parnell would chose a lobbyist, if nothing else but because one of Parnell’s major strengths is that he’s perceived as an ethical leader. Appointing a lobbyist to the Legislature undercuts that perception, however unfair it might be. Kitto is known as smart and capable. But the optics just aren’t good. Expect a fierce primary battle, and expect Parnelll’s name to get some mud on it in the process.
Here’s Parnell’s press release in full.
Governor Sean Parnell today appointed Sam Kito III to fill the House District 32 seat that was held by Representative Beth Kerttula.
“Sam has a positive vision for creating a long-term future in Alaska for our children,” Governor Parnell said. “He also has a wealth of experience in transportation planning and economic development that will allow him to hit the ground running. I am pleased he has accepted the position.”
Kito is a lifelong Alaskan with more than 24 years of experience in engineering, planning, commercial fishing, and government relations. He has worked throughout Alaska on engineering, transportation and community planning projects. Kito is the owner of KCS, LLC. He previously served as a facilities engineer for the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, and as a transportation development manager for the City and Borough of Juneau. He also worked for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities as a special assistant and legislative liaison.
Kito received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering with a minor in mathematics from the University of Alaska Anchorage. He is a registered professional engineer in Alaska and Washington.
Governor Parnell expressed his appreciation for the many qualified applicants who put their names forward in the interest of serving the State of Alaska and the constituents of House District 32.
Kito must be confirmed by a majority of House Democrats.
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