Al Kookesh, a former state senator and current special assistant to Gov. Bill Walker, has been diagnosed with cancer. Members of his family have set up a fundraising page to help him defray expenses related to his treatment.
The goal of the fundraising campaign is $25,000, of which over $5,000 has been raised.
GoFundMe is a web site that is often used to help families and individuals cope with medical expenses and other emergencies.
According to the page set up for Kookesh, his treatment will start immediately, but no details are available as to the seriousness of his battle with cancer.
Kookesh, from Angoon, represented District C as a Democrat from 2005 through January 2013. Prior to his Senate seat, he was a member of the Alaska House of Representatives from 1997 through 2005, when he lost after redistricting changed the boundaries of his district.
Kookesh received his bachelor’s degree from Alaska Methodist University and law degree from the University of Washington in 1976. He is a commercial fisherman, and owns and operates a lodge and market.
He is on the board of directors of the Sealaska Corporation and is a co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives. He also served as acting president and CEO of Kootznoowoo Inc. He is past secretary and grand president of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, and was special assistant to Alaska Governor Tony Knowles. He also served on the central committee of the Alaska Democratic Party.
Kookesh, 68, belongs to the Tlingit Nation, Eagle Tribe, Teikweidí (Brown Bear) Clan, child of L’eeneidí (Dog Salmon) Clan. His Tlingit names are KA ShAAN and YikdehHeiN. He has a Bachelor of Arts in history from Alaska Methodist University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Washington.
A wide variety of well-known Alaskans, especially Native Alaska leaders, have contributed to the Kookesh GoFundMe site, which likely does not fall under ethics rules in the Office of the Governor since the site was set up by a relative.