Alaska editorial: Look ahead to new year, new governor

Posted: Thursday, January 04, 2007

This editorial appeared in Voice of the Times:

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Every New Year bows in amid a mixture of excited anticipation and a sense of concern. We're happy to see the old year fade away and we eagerly await good things happening in the months ahead. But at the same time, there is an unknown world out there waiting to toss a roadblock or two in the path.

Let's set aside, however, any thoughts of gloom and doom. Instead, let's put on a smiling face and look with considerable optimism at what might be in store for Alaska.

Why not? After all, we have a new governor in place - an energetic individual who certainly is going to create a lot of national attention by the fresh look she brings to the office that until now has been held by . . . how might we best express it . . . a group of guys whose talents perhaps were not necessarily matched by good looks and charisma.

Sarah Palin certainly has the looks and she exudes a ton of charm in a bright smile that would do justice to the cover of a national magazine. But we're sure she wants not to be judged on the fact that she is Alaska's first woman governor and that she is physically attractive. Her purpose, we're confident, is to be judged as a good governor - with no gender attached to the word.

This New Year will give her ample opportunity to demonstrate her skill as a manager, an administrator, an executive, a leader.

She began four weeks ago on a high note, quickly moving to put in place her team. Her opponent in the November election, former Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles, campaigned on the promise that if elected he would hit the ground running. He lost in something of a landslide, and instead of Tony, it is Sarah who landed feet-first and got off running with more speed and assurance than her critics had anticipated. It's a good thing, too, because the challenges ahead for the state are many and complex.

Dealing with a new Legislature surely will be a test for the governor, given that she has never before been faced with a legislative body any larger than the City Council of Wasilla, where she served as mayor before moving into statewide prominence.

Both the Legislature and the governor already have come face to face with the need to successfully deal with a natural gas pipeline contract with the state's major oil producers. Her predecessor, Gov. Frank Murkowski, left office without completing a pipeline deal - but despite his critics, he and his administration have provided the state with a solid negotiating foundation on which to complete a successful deal.

Now it's up to Palin and her administration, working with the Legislature, to get the job done. Along the way, she will face other leadership challenges.

Our thought is she will do well, and make this a Happy New Year for all Alaskans.

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