Cora Campbell, who once appeared to be Gov. Sean Parnell’s most controversial commissioner appointment, now appears to be headed for easy confirmation.
Parnell named Campbell, 31, to head the Department of Fish & Game, a department legislators said was heavily staffed with middle-aged men.
The House Resources Committee on Friday interviewed Campbell, and passed her nomination on to the full House of Representatives for consideration later in the session.
Despite those early concerns, Campbell now looks likely to win easy confirmation, said Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak.
“She’s certainly proved herself,” he said.
Early concerns about Campbell’s qualifications for the position were linked both to her relative youth and her previous ties to commercial fishing.
Since her appointment Dec. 1, however, she has worked to address those concerns and continued that during her Friday confirmation hearing.
“Although I grew up commercial fishing, I also grew up sport fishing,” she said, as well as participating in personal use fisheries.
At Friday’s hearing, the committee heard strong, but not unanimous support for Campbell, including from some sportfishing groups.
“We’ve been very impressed with her decisive action and her willingness to listen to both sides of the story,” said Craig Compeau, with Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife.
One of the few who testified against Campbell’s confirmation was Sara Jackinsky of Homer who called Campbell unqualified due to her lack of a scientific, research or similar background.
Jackinsky called the appointment “a slap in the face to those involved in commercial fishing, sport fishing, and subsistence fishing.”
She called the appointment of Campbell, who had been the governor’s fisheries advisor, “a case of who you know.”
Campbell has a degree in education from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash.
Juneau’s representatives, both speaking after the meeting, said they’d support Campbell as well.
“She’s an intelligent woman with a great background in fisheries,” said Rep. Cathy Mużoz, a member of the Resources Committee.
“There were objections early in the process, but that was from groups that didn’t have all the information about her,” she said.
Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, also said she supported Campbell.
The Alaska Native Brotherhood initially rejected Campbell, but then switched to support her. The Alaska Federation of Natives also offered its endorsement, as did United Fishermen of Alaska and other fishing groups.
• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 586-4816 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.