Parnell to begin elected term with evaluation of top staff

HIS OWN TEAM: Focus will be on topics rather than departments.

November 3, 2010 

Gov. Sean Parnell, flanked by his wife, Sandy, and running mate Mead Treadwell, thanks supporters at election central Nov. 2, 2010, at the Egan Center in downtown Anchorage.

ERIK HILL / ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS Buy Photo

Gov. Sean Parnell expects to make changes among Cabinet members and other key administrators when he starts his new term, he said Wednesday. "Like every governor before me, I am requesting resignations from commissioners, deputy commissioners and directors," he said a day after soundly defeating Democratic challenger Ethan Berkowitz with almost 59 percent of the vote.

Commissioners and others can submit letters of interest if they want to keep their jobs, he said.

"Some of those people will be rehired. Some will not," Parnell said.

Parnell was Sarah Palin's running mate in 2006 and served as lieutenant governor until she abruptly quit in July 2009, 11 months after she vaulted to national prominence as John McCain's running mate. Parnell largely retained the Cabinet he inherited during the last 15 months but said that would not be the case after voters Tuesday gave him his own four-year term.

"I wouldn't ask for resignations if I didn't anticipate change," he said. "Every governor leaves his or her imprint through the policies that get enacted by their Cabinet. I want to assure that I have that opportunity as well."

The only commissioner known to be leaving is the retiring head of the Department of Fish and Game, Denby Lloyd, the governor said. Some commissioners under Palin signed up for a four-year stint, he said.

"I want to give them the opportunity to leave if they want," he said.

Winning his own four-year term allows a greater degree of freedom to "move with the Legislature," he said.

"That vote last night, to me, is the public saying, 'Yes, continue that direction.' That's what we intend to do," he said.

Bryan Butcher, director of government relations for the Alaska Housing Finance Corp., will coordinate transition plans with the goal of improving each department and agency, Parnell said.

Instead of a team for each department, Parnell said, transition groups will focus on topics: resources, energy and environment; health and education; infrastructure; science, technology and communications; financial services and business investment; public safety and justice; and the military.

The public will be able to comment, he said.

"It provides opportunity for community input and suggestions on how we can improve the performance of state agencies on behalf of the public that we serve," he said.

He will appoint chairmen of transition committees within a week and expects them to report back in December.

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