APPOINTED BY PARNELL in 2014, HE WAS A RELIABLE DEMOCRAT VOTE
Rep. Sam Kito III, who represents the most liberal district in Alaska — House District 33 — will not run for reelection, he told the Juneau Empire today.
District 33 calculates as a hard left neighborhood. In 2014’s primary election, it voted to repeal SB 21 by 78 percent of voters. SB 21 which was an oil tax reform measure that passed the House and Senate. Later in November of 2014, Mark Begich won 66 percent of the vote over challenger Dan Sullivan, who beat Begich statewide for his Senate seat.
And for governor that year, House District 33 went heavily for Bill Walker, enough to pull him over the finish line statewide, with 5,837 votes for Walker/Mallott to 2,857 for Parnell/Sullivan.
Kito was appointed by Parnell in February of 2014 after the departure of Rep. Beth Kerttula, who left for a fellowship and later to work in the Obama Administration on oceans issues. Assemblyman Jessie Kiehl and Catherine Reardon had also been recommended by local Tongass Democrats for the job.
Later that year, Kito won handily for reelection over Republican Peter Dukowitz.
The district breaks down into precincts covering other parts of northern Southeast Alaska:
33-510 Juneau No. 1
33-515 Juneau No. 2
33-520 Juneau No. 3
33-525 Lemon Creek
33-530 North Douglas
33-545 Haines No. 1
33-550 Haines No. 2
Kito has been publicly signaling that he doesn’t plan to run again, making it clear that a reduction in per diem for Juneau lawmakers would cause him to go in the hole financially. He makes $50,400 as a legislator and last year was paid $32,400 in per diem.
The State Officers Compensation Commission recommended eliminating per diem payments to lawmakers who live within 50 miles of the Legislature’s meeting location.
Legislators allowed the 60 days to pass during the current session when they would have had to reject that recommendation. During that time, Kito spoke during committee meetings and on radio shows about how that would impact him, as a single father trying to put a student through college. He has grown increasingly irascible and is sporting a long beard, unlike his previous clean-shaven appearance.
Already Sara Hannan, a Democrat and retired school teacher, and Chris Dimond, an unaffiliated resident of Douglas Island who runs the local carpenters union, have filed to run for Kito’s seat, and there will likely be others who will file for the seat.
This year, Juneau will also lose its senator, Dennis Egan, who has said he is not running for reelection.
Juneau’s Rep. Justin Parish, who represents District 34 (Mendenhall Valley north) faces a serious campaign season against longtime police officer Jerry Nankervis, who has filed for that seat.
In short, Juneau and communities to the north could have a brand new team representing them next January, at the same time they are welcoming the next resident of the Governor’s House on Calhoun Avenue.