Former Alaska House Speaker Bradner, who helped pass Permanent Fund amendment, dies at 83

A white man in a suit and tie
Former Alaska House Speaker Mike Bradner, D-Fairbanks, hosted Capitol Views on KTOO 360TV. Bradner died Saturday. He was 83. (Screen capture of Capitol Views)

Former Alaska House Speaker Mike Bradner died Saturday of complications from a COVID-19 infection. He was 83. 

Bradner was a Democrat who represented a Fairbanks area House district for 10 years in the state Legislature. He served as speaker in 1975 and 1976 when the Alaska Permanent Fund was established. 

His brother Tim Bradner said he helped smooth the path for the Legislature to pass the amendment starting the fund. 

“Mike was very proud of that, and the fact that he helped it, but didn’t really want to take a lot of credit for it,” Tim Bradner said. “He wanted others to take the credit.”

Mike Bradner first came to Alaska to work as a deckhand on Yukon River freight boats. Later, he worked as a journalist, starting at the Fairbanks Daily News Miner. He then became interested in politics and was elected to the House in 1966.

Beginning with his time working on the Yukon, Bradner maintained a longtime interest in rural Alaska. He worked as a state coordinator for the federal War on Poverty programs, according to his brother Tim. 

“So that took him all over the state, working with local communities, you know, particularly rural communities,” Tim Bradner said of his brother. “So out of that [he had] a deep interest in rural affairs, and particularly education. That was one of the things he was known for, was his strong interest in public education.” 

After serving as speaker, Mike Bradner returned to journalism. He started a subscription newsletter, the Alaska Legislative Digest. He also interviewed legislators and state leaders for the KTOO 360TV show Capitol Views.