JOINS NUMEROUS DEMOCRATS WHO ARE LEAVING OFFICE
Rep. David Guttenberg announced his retirement from office Wednesday.
Representing Fairbanks, he has been a legislator for eight terms and was a legislative aide for four years before being elected. That gives him 20 sessions in Juneau, plus many special sessions in the past few years.
Earlier this year, the 66-year-old Democrat suffered a health scare relating to his heart and ended up in the hospital. He had collapsed and lost consciousness for periods of time on March 6, while in the State Capitol.
Guttenberg, a member of the House Democrat-led majority, currently serves on House Finance Committee.
Running for his seat in a moderate-conservative portion of Fairbanks is well-known Republican Jim Sackett.
Guttenberg is one of several House Democrats to leave this year, including Rep. Dean Westlake of Kotzebue, Rep. Zach Fansler of Bethel, and Rep. Justin Parish of Juneau. All three of those had very public problems with sexual harassment or assault. Westlake and Fansler were replaced after being forced from office. Fansler may even face charges.
Parish faced an uphill battle for re-election and chose to step down after his one term.
Rep. Sam Kito of Juneau is also not running for his seat.
Also possibly not returning next year will be Rep. Paul Seaton of Homer, who is rumored to be retiring. He is one of three Republicans who have been kicked out of the Alaska Republican Party.
Democrat Rep. Scott Kawasaki of Fairbanks has filed for a Senate seat, so he won’t return and could be replaced by Republican Bart LeBon. And Democrat Majority Leader Chris Tuck of District 23 Anchorage may choose not to run again.
And if Rep. Jason Grenn, a nonpartisan, makes a try for Sen. Mia Costello’s Anchorage Senate seat, his House seat will likely go to a Republican.
This group alone means not only will Juneau have an entirely new delegation, but the entire fragile Democrat-led caucus could see the tables turned on it during the November election.
CAME FOR PIPELINE JOB, STAYED FOR THE POLITICS
Guttenberg grew up in New York City, graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and moved to Alaska in 1969 to work on the Trans Alaska Pipeline.
“Working on the pipeline gave me a foundation of financial security for the rest of my life, and showed me what Alaskans were capable of,” he wrote in April.
He was elected in 2002 to the House. Guttenberg missed much of the legislative session in 2013, when his wife Marilyn fell ill; she died later that year. He lists his occupation as politician and peony farmer.