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‘Unaffiliated’ Lincoln picked for District 40 seat


Gov. Bill Walker appointed John Agnaqluk Lincoln of Kotzebue to represent House District 40 in the Alaska House of Representatives. The area spans from Kotzebue to Barrow and is the epitome of rural Alaska.

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Lincoln was born in Kotzebue and is a vice president for NANA Regional Corporation, where he oversees and manages NANA lands.

He is an Iñupiat who was valedictorian of Kotzebue High School in 1999, and he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University. He is a private pilot and has worked as an EMT for the Kotzebue Volunteer Fire Department.

“Just like the Democratic Party officials in House District 40, I set out to identify the person who is best prepared to lead at this pivotal moment in Alaska’s history,” Governor Walker said in a late-night press release. “I thank everyone who stepped forward and applied, but I am fully convinced that John Lincoln is the best person for this role.”

District 40 Republicans — a small but spirited bunch — posted their good wishes to the nominee on Facebook: “John Lincoln would have been a GREAT Republican candidate for HD40.”

The governor had been working closely with the Democratic Party for days to come up with more names after the vetting of the first three candidates fell short.

Two of them became embroiled in a personal dispute between them, and the third was inexperienced. The governor had, by statute, until Thursday to finalize a pick.

The House Democrats are expected to confirm the appointment quickly and put the smell of complicity behind them.

Presumably, Lincoln will change his political affiliation to Democrat, but since Democrats now embrace nonaligned politicians in Alaska, he may remain a man without a party, embraced by the Democratic caucus.

The need for an appointment came about because the Alaska Democratic Party had challenged one of their own — Democrat Ben Nageak of Barrow — in the 2016 primary.

They pushed Dean Westlake as their chosen man with the help of Gov. Bill Walker’s associate Robin Brena and other large urban Democrat donors.

Then, the Division of Elections allowed irregular voting throughout the district, including allowing people to vote two ballots in some communities. Nageak lost by eight votes.

The election was challenged in court, but the judge said that the irregularities were mistakes that resulted from poor training, and he did not force a new election.

Westlake turned out to be a disaster, having harassed several women before and after being sworn in last January. He resigned in disgrace in December.

Many thought that this seat would go to a woman because of the deeply embarrassing history of Westlake, and the fact that so many Democrat lawmakers, both men and women, knew about Westlake’s proclivities.

Sen. Shelley Hughes, who originally came into the House of Representatives after being chosen by Gov. Sean Parnell to fill out the term of the late Rep. Carl Gatto, questioned Gov. Walker’s judgment: “When the governor chooses to appoint someone not on the list presented to him by the people in the district, is it safe to assume he thinks he knows better than they do what they need?”


Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
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.


  1. Maybe this is not corruption but instead is extreme incompetence across wide distances over an extended period of time. Regardless it has many of the hallmarks of corruption, and absent a genuinely legitimate investigation by impartial interests I will believe it is most likely corruption. Big union money takes the guy who won the Democratic primary for governor into a room with a guy who continually ran as a Republican but never came close to winning. They emerge from the room and for some reason can announce that the primary winner is stepping aside to be put in charge of state elections. Then in the most remote legislative district in the United States a well loved incumbent is first the winner and then declared the loser in a close election, 8 votes I think I recall. This purported winner was recruited by big money interests in the very same city where the earlier election turpitude occurred behind closed doors. Someone might say the same big money interests. Then the guy in charge of the elections (remember how he got that job, it’s important here) statewide says that 40 voters were given two ballots and there is no way to tell who voted two ballots. So in his first term that guy declared the winner assaults some women, one of whom files a written complaint about some of the assaults. The complaint is sequestered and the guy begins voting rather differently (as opposed to indifferently perhaps). But the guy is then found to have molested a child when he was a uniformed police officer, with a pregnancy resulting, and the guy resigns less than a year after being sworn into the Legislature. The district – that remote district as you may recall – then submits names for the replacement as required by law, but the governor (the guy who never won a primary but emerged from that room in the big city with union leaders) today comes up with his own man. Again, if this is not corruption it has all the hallmarks of corruption. No clearer trail of corruption can be found in Chicago or NYC. If the media reports are correct that the US Justice Department has gone through a house-cleaning, a much needed one as all Alaskans know, I say we need the Justice Department to take a look for corruption in Alaska right now! Otherwise how can we possibly believe the results in the 2018 Alaska elections?

  2. As a follow up to this interesting story, John Lincoln is registered as non affiliated with a political party, not a Democrat. So our “independent” Governor who aligned his campaign with the Democrats just appointed another “independent” and the Democrats in the Alaska House of Representatives unanimously voted to confirm Mr. Lincoln, imagine that. Is Mr. Lincoln going to be required to join the Democrat party now? All the articles that I have read today (1/26/18) do not mention this. What kind of deal did Mr. Lincoln, the House Democrat leadership and Governor Walker make to get Mr. Lincoln confirmed.

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