Colberg wins Mat-Su mayor race

Former Alaska attorney general, Troopergate figure receives 63 percent of popular vote

Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Former Alaska attorney general and Troopergate figure Talis Colberg was elected mayor of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough on Tuesday.

Colberg received 63 percent of the vote, easily beating six other candidates to fill the unexpired term of former Mayor Curt Menard, who died in March.

Colberg will serve until October, when a regular election will be held for a three-year term.

"I'm very pleased, I'm astonished by the margin," Colberg said in a statement. "I look forward to the opportunity and want to be a good mayor."

Colberg received 2,541 votes. Bruce Walden finished second, with 772 votes. Another 1,091 votes, including absentee, questioned and special needs ballots, still need to be counted.

Turnout was light with only 7 percent of registered voters castings ballots.

The mayor position, with an annual salary of $19,325, is largely ceremonial since the administrative power is vested in the borough manager. Colberg will not vote at assembly meetings except to break a tie.

Colberg was a little-known Palmer attorney specializing in workers' compensation cases when Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin chose him as her first attorney general after being elected in 2006.

"Congratulations to former AG & new Mat-Su Borough Mayor Talis Colberg! I wish him all the best in his new role," Palin said in a Wednesday update on her Twitter feed.

As attorney general, Colberg filed a lawsuit on behalf of seven of nine state workers challenging legislative subpoenas in the Troopergate probe, the Alaska Legislature's investigation into Palin's firing of her public safety commissioner.

A judge rejected the lawsuit and the employees later testified.

In February, the Legislature found the governor's husband, Todd Palin, and nine state workers in contempt for ignoring subpoenas. Colberg resigned four days later, and the post still hasn't been filled. The Legislature in April rejected Wayne Anthony Ross, Palin's choice to replace Colberg. Richard Svobodny remains the acting attorney general.

Palin's spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said the governor's chief of staff, Mike Nizich, has interviewed about a dozen candidates for attorney general, and Leighow expected a decision and announcement soon.

Colberg also has served as adjunct instructor of history for Matanuska Community College, a branch of the University of Alaska Anchorage, and served two terms on the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly.

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