Palin now a part-time resident

Juneau's hold on the capital remains strong; its hold on the governor is less so

Posted: Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Gov. Sarah Palin will be in the state's capital only intermittently until January.

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Palin, a former Wasilla mayor, is mostly living in her Wasilla home instead of the Governor's Mansion, she said this week.

That will likely continue until the Alaska Legislature meets, she said.

Palin said, however, if she's got state business to conduct in Juneau, she'll travel there. She has some meetings scheduled for Juneau this week, her staff said.

"I'll travel to where Alaskans need me," she said.

Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho said he was disappointed that Palin was not living in Juneau, but as the state's chief elective officer it was her decision to make.

"Until this point, most governors have seen Juneau as their permanent year-round residence," he said. "Gov. Palin has a different view."

Palin's three school-age children are enrolled in Wasilla schools, she said. They will be coming to Juneau when Palin comes to town for the start of the regular legislative session in January.

"We'll do what legislators do and bring them down next semester," she said.

Palin said that it was more convenient for her children to be in Wasilla, where family was.

"This makes most sense, where they can be close to their grandparents and aunts," she said.

The governor's husband, Todd Palin, known as the "first gentleman," recently returned to work as a production operator for BP, his job prior to Palin's election.

This week he's been on the North Slope, she said.

Botelho said he couldn't begrudge Palin doing what was best for her family, but would prefer the governor was in the capital.

"It's no surprise that she should want to have her family closer at hand, and as a parent I can't fault her for that," he said. "As mayor, I'd like to see the state's chief executive conducting the state's business primarily in Juneau."

Palin has tentatively called a special session of the Alaska Legislature for Oct. 18 to discuss oil taxes, but has not yet said where that session will be.

She did say she preferred it to be "on the road system," raising fears in Juneau of more and more functions of state government leaving the city.

Palin asked legislators where they'd prefer to meet, however, and a wide majority of House members chose Juneau, according to House Speaker John Harris, R-Valdez. Several members of the Senate have publicly said the same thing, though Palin isn't scheduled to make her announcement until she formally calls the special session on Sept. 4.

"I'll be where the Legislature will be, but we don't know yet where the special session will be," she said.

• Contact Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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