Bethel’s Ana Hoffman and former Senate President Rick Halford are chairing incoming Governor Bill Walker’s transition team. Walker is racing towards inauguration next month.
Hoffman and Halford are pulling together stakeholders in 17 topic areas, from budgets and subsistence to the National Guard and education. Those people will attend this weekend’s transition conference to prepare briefings for Walker and Mallott. Hoffman says they’re seeking a demographic that’s representative of Alaska.
“We’re trying to reach out to a variety of age groups, males, females democrats, and republicans, people who work in both rural and urban Alaska, so all those perspectives can be shared and can contribute toward the end product,” said Hoffman.
Over the weekend, about 200 people will gather at the University of Alaska Anchorage campus with the incoming Governor and Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott to dig deep into the state’s most pressing issues.
“We’ll get together and identify the most significant area of concern, areas where we can reach consensus, and steps forward for implementation. The groups will spend time identifying areas under those specific topics where the stakeholders couldn’t reach consensus but try to identify items that can be overcome and work toward implementing those areas where they can overcome their differences,” said Hoffman.
Hoffman says the group will work more with policy issues and less with any personnel decisions for the incoming administration.
Walker must submit a budget to the legislature in less than a month. While he’s been campaigning around the state, the price of oil has dropped well below forecasts, leading to deficit spending for the legislature and lean budgets in the near future. Hoffman says the state’s fiscal reality will play into every discussion this weekend.
“I’m sure that all of the different areas, such as infrastructure, natural resources, public safety, revitalizing the National Guard, in all of those areas, I’m sure everyone would agree they need more services. But before those discussions happen, participants will all need to understand what type of budget constraints we’re facing in the state, and with that in mind, what sort of things we can continue to strive toward,” said Hoffman.
Walker is slated to be sworn in December 1st.