Politics

Alaska health commissioner to head Revenue Department

Adam Crum, covid, covid briefing, covid-19

JUNEAU — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy said Monday that his health commissioner will now lead the Department of Revenue.

Adam Crum was appointed to head the Department of Health and Social Services at the start of Dunleavy’s term in office four years ago. Crum has led the agency through the COVID-19 pandemic and its split into the Department of Health and the Department of Family and Community Services.

Dunleavy announced that Heidi Hedberg, who currently serves as the director of the Division of Public Health, will serve as acting commissioner of the Department of Health.

Dunleavy is well ahead in preliminary returns and strongly expected to be reelected, prompting him to make appointments to key cabinet posts.

Jeff Turner, a spokesman for the governor’s office, said Crum will be acting commissioner until his name is submitted to the Legislature for confirmation next year. Turner said it will be determined later whether Hedberg’s name will be submitted for confirmation, too.

The state Revenue Department has undergone multiple leadership changes in recent months.

Commissioner Lucinda Mahoney resigned in September and was replaced by Deven Mitchell, who in turn left the agency last week to serve as executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.

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Brian Fechter, who has worked in various roles for the state of Alaska for the past nine years, was named acting revenue commissioner last Monday. Fechter said that he always expected that job to be temporary.

Before joining the Dunleavy administration, Crum worked as an executive vice president for Northern Industrial Training, a family-owned vocational training center based out of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. He has a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s in psychology from Northwestern University.

“This is an opportunity to continue serving the state by helping bring leadership stability to a critical portion of government,” Crum said by email when asked why he wanted to take on the new role.

He is set to officially start as Revenue commissioner on Wednesday, which is one of the highest profile positions in state government. The agency collects and enforces taxes, manages the state treasury, child support services and the Permanent Fund Dividend Division.

As commissioner, Crum will earn $141,160 per year, and serve on the Permanent Fund’s board of trustees and help direct the management of the $71 billion fund. He will also serve as a trustee and fiduciary on the board that manages $30 billion in state retirement assets.

Other key posts

Tyson Gallagher was appointed as Dunleavy’s chief of staff Monday. Gallagher had been serving in that position in an acting role since July, when his predecessor Randy Ruaro left due to family health issues.

Turner said that Ruaro continues to work in the governor’s office as a policy adviser on resource and lands issues.

Gallagher was hired by Dunleavy in February last year from GCI, where he worked for nearly five years as a government-relations specialist. He previously served as an aide to former Rep. Lynn Gattis, R-Wasilla, and former Gov. Sean Parnell. As chief of staff, Gallagher is set to earn $149,714 per year.

During Dunleavy’s time in office, there have been multiple cabinet reshuffles. Of the 15 state agencies, four commissioners appointed by the governor at the start of his tenure are still serving in their same roles.

There are currently four other acting commissioners who have not been confirmed by the Legislature, including the heads of the Department of Natural Resources, Corrections, and Family and Community Services. Three of them did not respond to requests for comment whether they plan to continue serving beyond this year.

Acting Education Commissioner Heidi Teshner said she had no comment on whether she would apply to serve as a full commissioner. The education commissioner is unique in that the State Board of Education & Early Development appoints the commissioner and not the governor, and the position is then not confirmed by the Legislature.

The board is currently in a recruitment process and expects to appoint a commissioner in February or March next year.

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Sean Maguire

Sean Maguire is a politics and general assignment reporter for the Anchorage Daily News based in Juneau. He previously reported from Juneau for Alaska's News Source. Contact him at smaguire@adn.com.

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