It’s Kito!

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.

Contact Amanda Coyne at 


12 thoughts on “It’s Kito!

  1. Tom Begich

    All three were good choices selected from a larger field by Juneau’s Democrats. Sam will do a good job – he’s a thoughtful, purposeful Alaskan who will represent his District well. I’ve worked with him on Education issues and know he will bring his integrity in those matters to his work as a Legislator. I’d have been proud of any one of the three – I know and have worked with them all – and am proud of Sam. He’ll be a key part of this minority.

  2. Sandi H.

    This blog post and the associated comments prove one thing – – Alaska politics is a participatory spectator sport.

  3. 586 + 783

    Filling Beth’s shoes will be tough. She grew up around the legislature, she went to law school, served in the attorney general’s office and then got elected to serve Juneau. Her institutional knowledge of the legislative process and state’s history. She will be missed. She has left large shoes to fill. The question is, can anyone fill them ?

  4. anonymous

    Why are the consternation and chatter? The Ds in the House have the ultimate say in their confirmation vote. If they approve, so be it.

  5. Bruce Botelho

    The Tongass Democrats selected a seven-member committee to screen and nominate candidates to replace Beth Kerttula. It invited all District 32 Democrats to consider applying. Nine stepped forward. Candidates were required to submit answers to an extensive questionnaire which was made available to the public. Each of the candidates submitted to a public interview and a private background check. The committee was impressed with all of the applicants, but weighed the skill sets and strengths and weaknesses of each. It made difficult decisions, but believed that the three candidates, including Sam Kito III, would do an outstanding job of representing our district. He deserves a chance to demonstrate to others what he made plain to the selection committee: that he is a worthy successor to Representative Kerttula.

  6. TruthSeeker

    What in the world does Shannon Moore have against Sam Kito? Her Facebook posts about his appointment are vicious. What I know of Kito is that he is a pretty smart young man, single father and interested in government and politics. If anything, I would call his politics left of center. Maybe Ms. Moore doesn’t like him because he’s not a left wing zealot. What’s the deal? Did he say something bad about felons or something?

  7. TBG

    After the election, Jesse Kiehl will be our elected representative from Juneau. Parnell is a gamer; not, a governor.

  8. Confederate

    Lobbyist? Are you kidding me? This was the best candidate? Thank you Governor Parnel for caring enough about the state to make a mockery of Juneau’s house seat. Didn’t you take an oath of office that is contrary to what you just did? I am a republican from Palmer who is absolutely disgustyed with the Governor’s neglect of duty. Just because the seat was democratice does not negate the importance or value to appointing the best. While I have to admit that I do not know Mr Kito, everyone that I do know felt that he was the third choice. I am disappointed that you appointed a lobbyist. I am done with you Governor Parnell and will be voting for Bill Walker and urging my friends to do so as well.

  9. quackerweed

    This would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Parnell appointed the least worthy of the three nominees. I find it repulsive that Parnell lowers himself to do such horrible acts of gross partisanship. Is it too much to expect him to try to do the best for Alaskans. He should be ashamed of himself. Y apologies, as an Alaskan, to Jesse and Catherine.

  10. P. Theatre

    Sam Kito is the first Native to serve Juneau in the legislature. I would like to commend Governor Parnell for his confidence in Mr. Kito and his role in this historically significant event. Mr. Kiro, I urge you to represent the constituents of your district with respect and kindness. Remember that you will be a role model for many young Alaska Natives.

  11. Ashley Reed

    All three candidates whose names were forwarded to the governor were capable good people. Any of the three would have made for a fine legislator. I want to extend my congratulations to Sam III and to his father who I’m sure is very proud of his son right now. Good luck.

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