Gov. Sean Parnell's first week in office was spent mending fences and rebuilding bridges between the governor's office and Juneau, just as local residents had hoped he would when he assumed the role.
Parnell appeared genuine and sincere this week when he made a commitment to work with local lawmakers and residents for the betterment of our city and state as a whole. That much was apparent at Thursday's Chamber of Commerce luncheon when residents packed the Moose Lodge to standing-room-only capacity to greet their new governor.
Parnell knew exactly what the city's residents wanted - and needed - to hear: He's committed to working and living in Juneau. Family obligations (his eldest daughter is a high school senior) will keep Parnell from living in Juneau full-time in the immediate future, though he has pledged "to spend a majority of his time here.."
So far Parnell has been forthcoming and direct with his intentions, and we believe he'll follow through with moving to Juneau when the time is right. He's is no stranger to our community, living here eight years while serving in the state Legislature.
It also didn't take long for him to build a local following. Parnell's criticism of the Environmental Protection Agency's recent interference with the Kensington mine, and his staunch support to get it reopened, further strengthened local support and offered proof he'll work to improve the regional economy. The mine's 300 or more jobs are needed by Southeast families, he acknowledged.
Kensington "should be open now," Parnell said to cheers from the chamber audience. "EPA forfeited its right to delay this project when they failed to comment before. There is no new information worth considering."
Thursday he signed a letter to the Corps seeking reissuance of the disposal permit.
Parnell's actions have backed up his promises. He's been visible and available to the public, and his office's communication with the media (in our view) has improved from the prior administration. We're encouraged by his first week in office and hope this is the sign of what's to come.
Alaska appears to now have a governor who will spend his time and efforts focused on the important issues facing the state of Alaska for the next 18 months, and perhaps beyond.
What a breath of fresh air it is to have a governor, unlike the previous two, who appears to have so little ego and isn't consumed by any sense of self worth.
Welcome aboard, Governor.
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