25-year-old Bethel man picked to lead replacement of state Rep. Fansler

Ben Anderson-Agimuk speaks at the Alaska Federation of Natives Annual Convention in October 2017. On Tuesday, House District 38 Democrats selected Anderson-Agimuk to be their party’s chair. (Photo courtesy Ben Anderson-Agimuk)

House District 38 Democrats took their first step last night toward replacing Rep. Zach Fansler, who resigned last week amidst assault allegations.

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The caucus selected Ben Anderson-Agimuk, 25, from Tununak and Bethel — and Fansler’s former aide — to chair their local party.

His first job will be to help replace him.

Anderson-Agimuk wouldn’t comment on Fansler’s resignation — he still works for the Legislature and thought that would be inappropriate.

Anderson-Agimuk did say what he’s looking for in Fansler’s replacement. He wants a candidate who would vote with the Democrat’s majority coalition in the State House, and who would be willing to run for re-election in six months in what could be a grueling campaign.

“There would be a lot of village travel,” Anderson-Agimuk said. “Your campaign will be as tough as your opponent, and we don’t know what we’ll have in store.”

The House District 38 Democrats need to nominate three prospective candidates for him to review, which will be done by a selection committee: a panel of four or five District 38 constituents.

But they couldn’t select the committee without a party chair.

The next step in the process will be for Anderson-Agimuk to accept applications from potential committee members, which he will forward to the state’s Democratic Party for review.

Fansler’s resignation is effective Feb. 12. Alaska Gov. Bill Walker needs to select Fansler’s replacement by March 14.