ANCHORAGE, Alaska—Gov. Sean Parnell has appointed Attorney General Dan Sullivan to head the state’s Department of Natural Resources, as part of a shakeup of his cabinet after winning election to his first full term as governor.
Parnell relies on his commissioners and department heads for advice on how best to manage the state, so the appointments he announced Thursday could play an important role in shaping public policy over the next four years.
Sullivan will replace Tom Irwin, the department's previous commissioner. Sullivan says he'll use his extensive legal and energy-policy experience to oversee Alaska's natural resources -- a frequent source of litigation.
“My first order of business is to sit down, listen, listen, because I believe I have a lot of experience in this area, but I also recognize I have a lot to learn,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan’s appointment to head DNR is one of six hires Parnell announced for his first full term in office.
“These new cabinet members and the existing ones will keep Alaska and Alaskans first: they will act to grow our private-sector economy and provide more opportunities for our families,” Parnell said.
Marc Luiken will take over at the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. He currently works for DOT managing airports, and is a pilot who served in the Air Force.
The Department of Administration’s next commissioner will be Becky Hultberg. She works in marketing, and was once press secretary for Gov. Frank Murkowski. She'll now oversee groups like the Alaska Public Offices Commission and the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Meanwhile, Cora Campbell will be acting commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game until the Boards of Fish and Game present Parnell with a list of potential commissioners to choose from. Campbell is a former fisheries advisor to Gov. Sarah Palin, who has worked in the seafood industry.
In addition to the new hires, Parnell announced two existing commissioners who will keep their jobs after he asked all cabinet members for their resignations earlier this month.
Susan Bell, who is from Nome, will stay on as commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. Among other things Bell will oversee business licenses, the Alaska Railroad, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute and the Regulatory Commission of Alaska, which approves utility rates.
Larry Hartig will also keep his current job as commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation. Hartig was first appointed by Gov. Sarah Palin and will oversee spill response and industry permitting.
Parnell says he wants state departments to do a better job of working together and sharing data. For example, he says he'll task the sport and commercial divisions of Fish and Game to look at ways to coordinate and possibly consolidate.
“How refreshing would it be to consider that fish are part of an integrated system, that they actually swim from river to ocean back to river?” Parnell said.
Parnell now has to appoint a new attorney general to replace Sullivan, and has yet to announce his choices for the commissioner's posts at the Departments of Health and Social Services, Education and Revenue.
Contact Ted Land at email@example.com