Capital likely to stay put under Parnell

Posted: Sunday, July 05, 2009

Local leaders are welcoming Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell as the state's new governor, saying he should be good for the capital city and the state.

Robert Deberry / Frontiersman
Robert Deberry / Frontiersman

"Sean has been a friend of Juneau for some time," said Sen. Dennis Egan, who has known Parnell for many years.

A former Republican legislator from Anchorage, Parnell was co-chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee for part of the time Egan served as Juneau's mayor in the 1990s.

Parnell represented Anchorage but never joined in the anti-Juneau sentiments expressed by some others from Anchorage and the Mat-Su, Egan said.

"He was never that way - Railbelt versus Southeast - in the conversations I've had with him," Egan said.

Juneau lobbyist and former legislator Clark Gruening said Parnell was in the legislature during the 1990s capital move efforts, but never participated in them.

"I've never felt that he was a capital mover, he said.

Parnell served in the state Legislature from 1993 to 2001, first in the House of Representatives and then in the Senate.

"When Sean was in the Legislature he owned a home and lived with his family during the sessions," said Rep. Cathy Muñoz, R-Juneau. "I think we can expect that same level of support as governor."

While running for office, Gov. Sarah Palin said she supported keeping Juneau as the state's capital, but broke with tradition by living mostly in her Wasilla home instead of the Governor's Mansion in Juneau.

More importantly to some, she did not require top state managers to live in the capital, facilitating capital creep. Many top state jobs shifted to Anchorage during her tenure.

Muñoz said Palin deserves praise for supporting a new state office building for Juneau, however.

Local Republican Party Chair Ben Brown said Palin showed her support for Juneau by backing the Kensington mine as well.

Palin also broke with tradition by becoming the first governor since statehood to be sworn in outside Juneau. That was not at her Wasilla home, but in Fairbanks.

In a press release issued Friday, Palin said she would transfer power to Parnell at the annual governor's picnic in Fairbanks on July 26.

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