Flags to be lowered for former North Pole Rep. Jeannette James - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, October 17, 2021
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Flags to be lowered for former North Pole Rep. Jeannette James

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Gov. Mike Dunleavy will lower the flag for former Rep. Jeannette James, who died this week. She was 91.

In 1998, James was first elected; she served 10 years for the North Pole area. She authored and passed several notable pieces of legislation including concealed handgun permits, landlord tenant reform, regulation reform, Fairbanks-Nome rail corridor, and the Alaska Public Building Fund. James served as chair of the House State Affairs Committee for six years and as the House majority leader for two years. 

“Everyone who had the opportunity to meet Jeannette knew that she always treated everybody with respect and fairness,” said Gov. Dunleavy. “She grew up on a farm in Iowa where she learned the value of hard work and honesty, which laid the groundwork for her career in the Legislature. Rose and I wish to extend our sympathies to her friends and family here in Alaska, Oregon and Iowa.”

James was born on Nov. 19, 1929 in Maquoketa, Iowa. An accountant by training and trade, she attended high school in Woodburn, Ore. and Merritt Davis School of Commerce, in Salem, Ore. When she moved to Alaska she studied accounting at the Anchorage campus of the University of Alaska, before statehood and also later in her life.

She owned an accounting firm and served as vice chair and treasurer for the Republican Party, District 18. She also had membership in North Pole Rotary; North Pole Chamber of Commerce; Air Force Association, Alaska Outdoor Council, Alaska Farm Bureau, and Alaska Miners.

James was the mother of three. Her husband, James, died in 2012.

Gov. Dunleavy will order the Alaska state flag to be flown at half-staff on a date to be determined by the family of the late Rep. James.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Sorry to hear this. She sounds like a wonderful lady. A former fellow Iowan to boot. Rest in peace ma’am.

  • Pretty sure Jeannette James was first elected in 1992.

  • Representative Jeannette James originated concealed carry in Alaska, and she did it all by herself so far as any initial support from the other 59 for the idea. Her drive to get it done was unique.
    There were Republicans who said the idea was crazy, would lead to rampant crime, etc. Most Democrats attacked her and the NRA as if they were one. She turned enough people around to have it enacted of course, and gradually the law was improved to arrive at what we have today (I think the annual Guns & Ammo ranking of gun-friendly states puts us at Number 10). A retired Public Safety Director was close to the Governor and he argued for a veto. Rep. James was right of course. It did not lead to crime but as she said it would, it has reduced crime from what would otherwise be the case. She was a tireless and effective supporter of the state timber sale program, almost uniquely so, and Alaskans opposing timber harvest said her support was corrupt because Jim had been a timber faller. She had many bills enacted and signed into law, and she was a great legislator.

  • Thank you Suzanne, Jeannette was my Grandmother. She will be missed but she’s left us with plenty of stories to tell about a life well lived.

    • I’ll hold my hand over my heart, where I carry my .40 cal, and say a prayer for Representative James. Thank you for helping make us a well-armed and free state.

  • Jeannette was a terrific, responsive legislator. This current crew could take a lesson in statesmanship from her model…

  • She sounds like she was an amazing and strong woman.

  • Jeannette was a wonderful lady who taught me a lot about the local political process. She was also a good friend; a kind and considerate person.
    Blessings and comfort to her family.

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