UPDATE: Democrats approve appointment of John Lincoln to the House

John Lincoln, appointed to the seat of House District 40 vacated by Dean Westlake. NANA Corp. photo.

JUNEAU (KTUU) UPDATE:
Thursday afternoon House Democrats approved the appointment of John Agnaqluk Lincoln to fill the vacant seat in House District 40.

"On behalf of the Alaska House Majority Coalition, I would like to congratulate Mr. Lincoln and welcome him to the team," said Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives Bryce Edgemon (D) from Dillingham. "We are excited for what he can bring to the caucus, and have immense confidence he will provide excellent, effective representation for the people of District 40."

ORIGINAL ARTICLE:
Gov. Bill Walker named a replacement Wednesday night for disgraced Rep. Dean Westlake.

The appointee, John Lincoln, wasn’t on the original list of nominees sent to Walker by the Democratic Party committee in Westlake’s home district. Before he can serve in the Legislature, now more than a week into its second session, Lincoln would have to win approval of the remaining 16 House Democrats.

Westlake, a Democrat from Kiana, resigned last month after accusations that he sexually harassed a legislative aide. A House investigation later found the allegations were true, and he apologized.

Lincoln works for the same regional Native corporation where Westlake held a job, NANA Regional Corporation Inc., of Kotzebue. Lincoln is NANA’s vice president of lands and is a member of senior management. Westlake was NANA’s director of village economic development.

The sprawling district once represented by Westlake, House District 40, covers Alaska’s two northernmost boroughs, the North Slope Borough, based in Utqiagvik (Barrow), and the Northwest Arctic Borough, headquartered in Kotzebue. Westlake edged out an incumbent Barrow Democrat, Ben Nageak, in the 2016 primary.

When a legislator leaves office in mid-term, the replacement is supposed to be chosen by the political party of the legislator. Nine people applied to the District 40 Democratic Committee for consideration — and Lincoln wasn’t one of them. Walker passed on the three chosen by the committee, Leanna Mack of Utqiagvik and two Kotzebue residents, Sandy Shroyer Beaver and Eugene Smith.

According to his NANA biography, Lincoln has the Inupiaq name Agnaqluk and is a NANA shareholder. Prior to joining NANA, he worked in the technology department of the regional nonprofit Maniilaq Association, where he specialized in networks and servers. He received his undergraduate degree at Stanford University in California.

Walker had until midnight to make his selection.

He now has to pick a replacement for Sen. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, who quit the Legislature to run for governor. The leading candidate, selected by local Republican officials, is Rep. George Rauscher. If Rauscher is picked, Walker will have another House replacement on his hands.