New governor tries to mend relations with capital city

Parnell promises presence in Juneau, announces governor's picnic in August

Posted: Thursday, July 30, 2009

Gov. Sean Parnell held the first cabinet meeting of his new administration Wednesday, and afterwards praised Juneau and took other steps to mend relations between the state's chief executive and its capital city.

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Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

Parnell said he'll be living in Juneau, but said he was already anticipating criticism for not being here enough.

"I expect to be here a lot," Parnell told Juneau reporters Wednesday on the lawn outside the Governor's Mansion.

Parnell, who took office Sunday following former Gov. Sarah Pain's resignation, said he and his family lived in Juneau during his eight years serving in the Legislature. His eldest of two daughters is now a senior in high school.

"We've made a commitment to her we're not going to rip her out of her senior year in high school and take her away from her friends," he said.

By the end of this week, Parnell said, he'll have spent 75 percent of his tenure as governor in Juneau.

Parnell also said he would not be claiming state per diem payments for time spent in Anchorage, at least not while he owns a home there.

Former Gov. Sarah Palin collected thousands of dollars in such payments while living at her home in Wasilla. She maintained such payments were justified because the state considered Juneau to be her official work station.

Parnell also pledged his backing for the Juneau Access Project, the state's 50.8 mile road up Lynn Canal toward Haines and Skagway that is currently facing a court challenge.

"I've always been a supporter of Juneau Access," he said.

He said he supports state ferries as well.

"I also understand the necessity of maintaining our marine highway system," he said, likening it to the road network in Alaska's interior.

Parnell said the executive branch wasn't responsible for the Aug. 10 special session in Anchorage, which was called by the Legislature. He declined to pledge that any future special sessions would be held in Juneau.

"I don't plan on any special sessions right now," he said.

Parnell said he'll be holding a governor's capital city picnic, similar to ones Palin held at the end of her governorship in Anchorage, Wasilla and Fairbanks.

That picnic will be in August on a date to be set, Parnell said.

He also praised Juneau, and said his time in the capital had been positive.

"I understand how warm and gracious the people in Juneau are," he said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or by e-mail at patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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