-- From Lisa Demer in Anchorage
A few dozen people -- university students and campaign volunteers, Filipino community members and Democrats, independent voters and long-time friends -- packed the Midtown campaign headquarters of Byron Mallott on Saturday for the office's grand opening.
Mallott, a Democrat, hopes to unseat Gov. Sean Parnell, a Republican seeking his second full term. Independent candidate Bill Walker also is in the race.
People nibbled on snacks and pinned Mallott campaign buttons to their chests. Children buzzed around. A few people wrote sentiments to stick on a sign called "Why I'm In For Byron." "Reality Based governance," one wrote. "He is for equality for everyone," another said.
John Havelock, a former state attorney general, introduced Mallott as a man of integrity.
Mallott, an Alaska Native born and raised in Yakutat, has held a number of prominent positions: mayor of Yakutat and Juneau, chief executive of Sealaska Corp., president of the Alaska Federation of Natives, executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.
Mallott said he's running because he loves Alaska and "we can always make Alaska a better place for all of us."
He said he wants a government that's open, transparent and inclusive, an atmosphere that gives everyone opportunities to voice their beliefs, concerns and values.
"We see the results when that isn't the case," Mallott said, pointing to the oil tax cuts Parnell pushed through the Legislature last year as a prime example. He said he supports repealing the oil tax cuts through a referendum set for the August ballot.
Too many Alaskans feel shut out of government, he said. "It's corrosive, it's debilitating. It takes away our focus and our energies on what should be positive forward movement."
Mallott said he will be campaigning across the state and but will be at the headquarters on Northern Lights Boulevard as much as he can. He called Anchorage "the heart of our state" and one of the most diverse cities in the country. Winning support here will be crucial to his campaign, he said.
He's been to Kotzebue and Nome, Bethel and Fairbanks, Wasilla, Willow and Palmer. He is heading to the Kenai Peninsula next week.
"It's been go, go, go. It's been meeting Alaskans, it's been learning, it's been engaging and it's been very very energizing."
Find Lisa Demer at: 257-4390, firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter, @lisa_demer