Governor appoints G. Stevens to Senate vacancy

Stevens represents Kodiak, parts of Kenai Penisula

Posted: Thursday, February 20, 2003

Kodiak Republican Rep. Gary Stevens is Gov. Frank Murkowski's pick to fill a state Senate seat vacated when Sen. Alan Austerman left his post to become the governor's fisheries advisor.

Stevens, 61, will represent Kodiak Island and parts of the Kenai Peninsula in the Legislature. He will serve until a special election is held in 2004. The appointment creates a vacancy in the House Murkowski said he expects to fill within two weeks.

In announcing the selection Wednesday, Murkowski lauded Stevens' experience, which includes a little more than two years in the state House and terms as Kodiak's borough and city mayor and School Board president. Stevens also worked as a University of Alaska professor and general manager for Northern Processors.

"He's well qualified, he has the support of his colleagues in the House as well as those in the Senate (who are) looking forward to his joining that body," Murkowski said.

Stevens was chosen from a list of four candidates submitted by Republican committees in the two House districts encompassing Austerman's former Senate District. Other candidates were former Kodiak Borough Mayor Jerome Selby, Tom Clark of Anchor Point and Pete Roberts of Homer.

By moving to the Senate, Stevens gives up a coveted seat on the powerful House Finance Committee. Austerman held a seat on the Senate Finance Committee before resigning and Stevens has asked Senate President Gene Therriault to allow him to take that position.

But Stevens said he was not confident he would be picked.

The Senate Committee on Committees, which makes such postings, was to consider the request today, a spokesman said.

House Speaker Pete Kott, an Eagle River Republican, said Stevens' House Finance Committee seat will be filled by someone now in the House, not Stevens' replacement. Kott said Republican Reps. Mike Chenault of Nikiski, Hugh "Bud" Fate of Fairbanks, and Cheryll Heinze of Anchorage have expressed interest in the post.

"It is one of the most sought after seats, so I'm sure there will be a lot of competition for that seat," Kott said.

As a result of the appointment, Murkowski asked the Republican Party submit a list of names to fill the vacancy in House District 36. Murkowski said he expects to make that decision within two weeks.

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