The people of Juneau have an extraordinary opportunity before them. If Kim Elton moves on to a job in Washington, D.C., with the Obama administration, that will leave his Senate seat empty, and it's safe to say that Rep. Beth Kertulla would likely accept an appointment by the governor to serve as our senator. Her vacant House seat would then present an unparalleled opportunity for Juneau Democrats to recommend the appointment of someone from among Juneau's largest minority populations, the Alaska Natives and the Filipino Community.
Each of these groups have been a part of Juneau from the earliest Territorial Days to the present, and both have contributed greatly to our history and development as a city and state. Each also offers not only a rich heritage but many capable leaders, both men and women, who understand the importance of the capital, Southeast Alaska and the state, as well as the value of responsible economic opportunity to support both family and community.
In my 40-plus years in Juneau, I have seen representatives to the Legislature from all parts of the state who were members of minorities - but never one from Juneau. That leaves Juneau Democrats an unprecedented chance to demonstrate their commitment to equality on all levels to our community. As Rep. Kertulla said in her recent address honoring Elizabeth Peratrovich, the state has made great strides but there is still more to be done in Alaska.
"I believe if she were here today," Kertulla told the standing-room only crowd at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall, "Elizabeth Peratrovich would say 'You have done well. There's more to do, but this is a very, very good place and a good time to live.'"
She is right, and this would be a very good place and time for the Juneau Democratic Party to demonstrate the spirit of inclusiveness much heralded by the new administration in Washington, D.C. To paraphrase our new president, it would be the right thing to do.