Want to join the Alaska Legislature? Applications are open

Panel of five will select who represents the North Slope and Northwest Arctic in Legislature

Michael Penn | Juneau Empire file Dean Westlake, seen in this February 2017 photo, resigned Friday amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Democrats have begun taking applications from Alaskans interested in representing the North Slope and Northwest Arctic Borough in the Alaska Legislature.

 

On Friday, Alaska’s Democratic Party issued a formal call for applications, saying it has begun the process of replacing Rep. Dean Westlake, D-Kiana. Westlake announced Friday that he will resign from the Alaska Legislature after several women said they had been sexually harassed by Westlake in Juneau. KTUU-TV reported other cases of sexual harassment before his arrival in Juneau, and that Westlake fathered a child with a teen girl in the 1980s.

According to the timeline proffered by the Alaska Democratic Party, Westlake’s replacement will not be seated before the next session of the Alaska Legislature starts on Jan. 16.

Westlake submitted an undated resignation letter Dec. 15. Under Alaska statutes, that letter will become effective Dec. 25. The Democratic Party’s Plan of Organization, spokeswoman Alice Kim said Wednesday, calls for three nominees to be picked within 21 days of a resignation. Gov. Bill Walker will then have nine days to select one person from among those three nominees to fill the seat.

Walker’s pick must then be confirmed by Democrats in the Alaska House of Representatives.

Under that timetable, the soonest someone could fill Westlake’s seat is the first week of the legislative session, and it’s more likely to happen in the second week or later.

Kim said applications will be taken through 5 p.m. Jan. 4. Those applications will be considered by a panel of at least five people from the district party. That panel will interview applicants and winnow the number of finalists to three. The names of the selection panel have not been decided, Kim said.

Applicants must be registered Democrats who live in House District 40, which includes the North Slope Borough and the Northwest Arctic Borough. Applicants must also meet the criteria laid out in the Alaska Constitution: They must be at least 21 years old, have lived in Alaska for three years, and from their district for one year.

Anyone appointed to the seat will serve until the fall election but may run for office on their own.


• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.


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