Senate organizes: Cathy Giessel to preside - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, April 4, 2020
HomePoliticsSenate organizes: Cathy Giessel to preside

Senate organizes: Cathy Giessel to preside

The Alaska Senate Republican-led majority met this weekend to form its leadership team, which is comprised of three women and two men:

Sen. Cathy Giessel, Senate president
Sen. John Coghill, chair of Rules
Sen. Mia Costello, majority leader
Sen. Bert Stedman, co-chair of Finance, for operating budget
Sen. Natasha von Imhof, co-chair of Finance, for capital budget

The majority includes all 13 Republicans elected to the Legislature.

Clockwise from top left, Coghill, Costello, von Imhof, Stedman

Committee chairs have not been finalized but Sen. Gary Stevens of Kodiak will chair the Legislative Council, a group that meets and makes decisions when the Legislature is not in session.

Gary Stevens

“The Senate is committed to listening to Alaskans who have made their priorities clear: the state budget, public safety and protecting the Permanent Fund and the dividend,” said Sen. Giessel.  “We stand ready to serve Alaskans.”

The majority will meet over the next few weeks to finalize the committee chairs and articulate the specific priorities.

There have been three other women Senate presidents in the Alaska Legislature since Statehood: Drue Pearce (twice);  Lyda Green, 2007-2008; and Jan Faiks, 1987-1988. All were Republicans.

Giessel represents Northeast Anchorage, Anchorage Hillside, Indian, Bird, Girdwood & Portage. Through redistricting, she has also in the past represented an area that stretched as far as North Kenai. Giessel is a nurse practitioner who volunteers at a clinic in Anchorage when she is not working at her legislative duties.

Coghill is from Fairbanks, Costello and von Imhof are from Anchorage, and Stedman is from Sitka.

Not in the 13-member majority this term is a familiar face from rural Alaska who has often co-chaired Finance for the Republican majority: Sen. Lyman Hoffman of Bethel. The other rural Democrat who could probably still join the majority is Sen. Donny Olson of Golovin, near Nome. But for now, it’s a 13-member, all Republican majority, with a door left ajar for a couple of rural senators who, in order to be elected, must remain Democrats.

The Senate Democrat minority has been in Anchorage this weekend also organizing its seven-member caucus.

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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

  • This is a superb line-up. Pete Kelly would have picked Cathy Bohms Giessel to replace himself. If Kawasaki does any more tongue wagging, Giessel will banish him, spank him, send him to Rules Chair for 90 days. That will make Fairbanks great again.

  • Giessel is a Fairbanks girl, born and raised. She WILL keep the little child, senator elect in line. Guaranteed.

  • So, is this an indication that the caucus rule of voting for any budget is gone? If all 13, that then includes Shelley Hughes and Mike Shower.

  • I would hope that the Republican Senate Leadership truly take to heart their constituencies stance. A large number of have said that we want to see SB 26 from last session, the allowance of criminals freed by SB 91, and the freewheeling spending of the past four years eliminated. We will not be fooled by ‘reducing your PFD to save your PFD’, ‘Spending more to help economy’, and other false tactics used by the Senate during the last four years. The PFD and Earnings Reserve are NOT government expenditures but are distributions of the Earnings of the Permanent Fund Corporation transferred to the Department of Revenue for Distribution to the shareholders, the citizens of Alaska. After decades of futilely spending more to ‘fix’ our educational system problems we are no longer interested in spending more money, we know that a lack of funding is not the issue. The issue is replacement of the annually deteriorating and failed administrative and educational delivery system.

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