New governor meets with ministers, others

Parnell: 'We've got a huge opportunity here, as a state and as a people'

Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2009

FAIRBANKS - Gov. Sean Parnell spent his first full day in office Monday meeting with locals in Fairbanks, including ministers, community leaders and the editorial board of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Parnell, who inherited the job with Sarah Palin's resignation Sunday, met with more than 50 ministers.

The breakfast meeting focused on how to align nonprofit resources to community needs such as feeding hungry people and dealing with domestic abuse, Parnell spokesman David Murrow said.

Parnell then met with the newspaper editorial board and had lunch with the board of directors of the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, shaking hands around the room. That was followed by a brief press availability with the local media.

"It feels like we can move forward," Parnell said at the briefing. "It feels like we've got a huge opportunity here, as a state and as a people. I'm excited by that, and I'm inspired by that challenge, and I think Alaskans ought to be as well."

Parnell said state staff, commissioners and the governor's leadership team in place are solid and plans to maintain the status quo.

"You will see some differences in approach, and that's what I think you see reflected today already," he said.

The News-Miner reported that Parnell said he'll work from Anchorage and Juneau until January, when the first family will move to Juneau. He did not say if the relocation would be full time.

The new governor's first cabinet meeting is scheduled for Wednesday in Juneau. He also is set to receive additional briefings this week on in-state natural gas.

The 2009 legislative session was marked by a contentious relationship between Palin and lawmakers. Parnell, a former state legislator, said he's already started to smooth those relationships.

"It is very important that the legislative branch and the executive branch understand that both are coequal branches of government, each has a constitutional role," he said. "Having been a legislator, I understand what those limitations are and what those possibilities are, and I can help explain to them what the executive branch opportunities are and how we can work together."

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