Eight-term Alaska Rep. Reggie Joule, D-Kotzebue, announced on Wednesday that he will not seek re-election. Joule chairs the Legislature's Bush Caucus, and has served since 1996. According to a press release, the decision came after consulting long and hard with his family.
"It has been an honor to serve over the last 16 years and I've cherished the support of the people of House District 40; they have been very good to me," Joule said. "I learned and (have) grown in so many ways since I was first elected. It's a little staggering to reflect on it now, but I know it's time."
Joule said he made the announcement now to allow others the chance to file for the upcoming election. Filing deadline for state candidates is June 1, 2012.
It's unclear what his future plans are. He said any announcement about them would come through the local media.
Joule's district encompasses the North Slope Borough, Northwest Arctic Borough, and Shishmaref. Joule currently sits on the House Finance Committee, the House Special Committee on Economic Development, Trade and Tourism and he's a member of the House Majority Caucus leadership.
"The foundation we laid with the Northern Waters Task Force and the creation of the Arctic Policy Commission this past session will be a hallmark of success for the future of Alaska," Joule said. "We began laying the groundwork for advancing Arctic policy and meeting some of our energy and livability challenges. I look forward to see how our State continues to build on this foundation as I work on other opportunities and challenges closer to home."
Fellow Bush Caucus member Rep. Bob Herron, D-Bethel, said Joule will be missed. However, Herron said it wasn't a sad day. Rather, he said, "it's a great opportunity for him to use his life experiences and talents in another capacity."
Joule is known as a bridge builder in the Legislature, and worked at smoothing relations between rural and urban legislators. He's also known for dominating the blanket toss from 1970 to 1985 in the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics. He even demonstrated it on the ''Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.''
This is a developing story. Check back for updates
Contact Amanda Coyne at Amanda@alaskadispatch.com