Anchorage Republican Gillis sworn in as newest Alaska House member

The Alaska House of Representatives entrance in the Capitol in 2015. On Monday, Mel Gillis, R-Anchorage, was sworn in as the newest House member. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

Anchorage Republican Mel Gillis was sworn in on Monday to be the newest state representative.

Gillis was sworn in by House Speaker Bryce Edgmon shortly after he was unanimously confirmed by House Republicans.

Gillis said in a statement that he was honored.

“We have a lot of complex issues to cover this year,” he said. “I am looking forward to meeting the remainder of my colleagues, hearing from my friends and neighbors about the issues that matter most to them, and preparing for the upcoming legislative session.”

Gov. Mike Dunleavy appointed Gillis after Josh Revak moved up from the House to fill the Senate vacancy caused by the death of Sen. Chris Birch.

House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt, an Anchorage Republican, said Gillis’ experience operating a hunting guide business and lodge allows him to provide a unique perspective.

“He has an appreciation for our resources, and the responsibility that we as legislators hold with keeping those resources renewable,” Pruitt said. “You know, if you overhunt, then you can’t be a hunting guide.”

The Alaska House Republicans are split between the minority and majority caucuses. But Pruitt said they all supported confirming Gillis, though some who couldn’t attend gave their support before the meeting or by phone.

It’s the first time since Birch’s death in August that all 60 legislative seats are filled.