Palin picks Fairbanks for swearing-in

Inauguration will be first ceremony outside Juneau

Posted: Sunday, November 19, 2006

FAIRBANKS - In a break with tradition, Gov.-elect Sarah Palin has picked Fairbanks as the location for her swearing-in ceremony next month.

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Palin said she chose the Interior city over Juneau in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the ratification of the Alaska Constitution and to honor the original delegates.

"For 50 years Alaska has enjoyed prosperity at a level other states and other countries can only dream of," she said in a news release. "I believe a great deal of credit for that should be given to the original framers of our Constitution."

Win Gruening, chairman of Juneau's Alaska Committee, called Palin's decision "entirely appropriate," even though it meant that her swearing-in wouldn't happen in the state capital.

"The constitution was the theme of her campaign, it makes sense to me she would carry that through in her swearing in," he said.

The Fairbanks ceremony on Dec. 4 will be the first held outside of Juneau, Palin spokesman Curtis Smith said Thursday. The ceremony will take place at the Carlson Center and will begin at noon. The public is invited.

The inaugural ball was expected to be held here.

"I've been to all of the inaugurals, that's sort of the more formal celebration," Gruening said.

Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker, a Palin supporter, is happy about her choice of Fairbanks. "The mayor is extremely excited," said his assistant, Jennifer Yuhas, "and he shares Sarah's excitement in commemorating Alaska's history."

Fifty-five delegates met at the University of Alaska campus in Fairbanks in 1955 to draft the constitution. Voters approved the document in April 1956.

Palin, a Republican, took nearly 49 percent of the vote, compared with about 41 percent for Democrat Tony Knowles. Independent candidate Andrew Halcro pulled just short of 10 percent.

The 42-year-old mother of four will be the state's youngest and first female governor. The highest office she has was mayor of Wasilla, a small city north of Anchorage.

Palin is preparing for her new job in other ways, too.

On Tuesday, she announced the opening of transition offices in Anchorage and Juneau. For the next few weeks, Palin and Lt. Gov.-elect Sean Parnell will be looking for people to fill key spots in the new administration, ranging from department commissioners and executive office staff to positions on boards and commissions.

Anyone who wants to apply can visit www.gov.state.ak.us/govelect.



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