The Iditarod Trail Committee Board of Directors on Monday announced another new board member: Clint Johnson, the Alaska chief of the National Transportation Safety Board, a federal agency that investigates aviation and other transportation accidents.
In response to criticism, the governing board of the 1,000-mile sled dog race underwent a recent overhaul, growing from nine voting members to 11, five of whom are new. The new Iditarod board represents a shift from a board made up largely of current and former Iditarod competitors, and family of those competitors. The Iditarod had faced criticism that there were too many conflicts of interest on the board.
The five new board members are: A former Olympic cross-country skier, an attorney, the chief executive of an advertising agency and the senior vice president and chief financial officer of an Alaska Native corporation, plus Johnson.
Chas St. George, an Iditarod Trail Committee spokesman, said Johnson will bring aviation expertise to the Iditarod board. The Iditarod relies on a team of volunteer pilots to fly race supplies between far-flung and remote checkpoints along the 1,000-mile trail. It also relies on them to transport sled dogs.
Johnson said the Iditarod approached him about becoming a board member. He said he was honored to join the race's governing board. The Iditarod board members are volunteers who serve three-year terms.
"The race is something I've always watched and admired from afar. It's uniquely Alaskan," said Johnson, who lives in Anchorage. "I love this state, and I wanted to try to give back a little bit more."
If there is an accident involving the Iditarod Trail Committee, Johnson said, he will recuse himself from the NTSB investigation.
The six people remaining on the Iditarod board with the five new members are: Andy Baker, Stan Foo, Danny Seybert, Mike Jonrowe, John Handeland and Mike Owens.
St. George said last month that Jonrowe's wife, DeeDee Jonrowe, and Baker's brother, John Baker, had both retired from racing, absolving them of conflicts of interest. He said Owens' daughter, Melissa Stewart, is not entering the 2019 Iditarod.
Andy Angstman is the new musher representative on the board, replacing current musher Wade Marrs. Angstman competed in his first and last Iditarod in 2007, placing 42nd. The musher representative is now a non-voting board member.