Arliss Sturgulewski, a former Alaska state legislator and at one point the Republican nominee for Alaska governor, has passed. She was 94.
She was a member of the Alaska State Senate from 1978-1993, and ran for governor in 1986 and 1990. She lost to Democrat Steve Cowper in 1986 for governor.
In 1990, she was beat by Wally Hickel for governor. After she and lieutenant governor candidate Jack Coghill had won their respective races and formed a ticket, Coghill and others in the conservative wing of the party met with Sturgulewski in both Juneau and in Anchorage, and asked if she would support some of their conservative causes, such as development and limits on abortion.
She said she would not and that she would stick to her platform, not the Republican platform. Coghill then called Hickel and they formed up a third-party ticket at the last minute. That left Sturgulewski out in the cold, looking for a new running mate in the third week of September. She signed up Jim Campbell, an Anchorage business leader, who was president of Spenard Builders Supply. Hickel and Coghill ended up winning in November as members of the Alaskan Independence Party.
Sturgulewski was considered a liberal Republican who thought the Democratic Party was corrupt. She supported abortion rights, and was an ardent environmentalist.
When Democrat operatives tried to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy in 2017, Sturgulewski was one of their first big sponsors of the recall petition. She left the Republican Party.
Sturgulewski was born on Sept. 27, 1927 in Blaine, Washington. She received her bachelor’s degree from University Washington, Seattle, 1949 and doctor of laws (honorary), from the University Alaska, Anchorage, 1993.
Friends celebrated her 90th birthday with her in 2017. Sturgulewski was active in politics until the past two years. Although she had lived in College Village in Anchorage for many years, she had been living in the Alaska Pioneers Home recently.
She was vice chairman New Capital Site Planning Commission in the 1970s, and was a member of member of the Anchorage Area Planning and Zoning Commission.
Sturgulewski is related to the family of Sen. Lisa Murkowski through marriage. Bernard Sturgulewski, her husband, died in a plane crash in 1968. Their son, Roe is married to Carol Murkowski, one of the six children of Nancy and former Gov. Frank Murkowski.
As a former lawmaker, Sturgulewski will be honored with flags flown at half staff in Alaska.
“My family sends our condolences to the family of former Senator Sturgulewski,” said Gov. Mike Dunleavy. “Arliss lived a long life and served this state and its largest city at important historical junctures. Her commitment to building a civic-minded Alaska will be remembered.”
Sturgulewski was recognized for her efforts in Alaska, including receiving the Anchorage YWCA Woman of Achievement award, the ATHENA Award, and Congregation Beth Sholom’s Shining Lights Award, the governor said.