Governor picks Tammie Wilson to replace Coghill

Posted: Wednesday, November 25, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Gov. Sean Parnell announced Tuesday that former teacher Tammie Wilson will replace John Coghill in District 11 in the Alaska House of Representatives.

Parnell said he personally interviewed the three applicants forwarded by the Republican Party to fill the one-year vacancy before deciding on Wilson.

"I look forward to working with you in the Legislature," Parnell said at a news conference in Anchorage. Wilson attended by phone from Fairbanks.

The North Pole area seat was left open when the governor chose Coghill, who was elected to the seat in 1998 and rose to speaker of the House, to replace Gene Therriault as state senator from District F. Therriault resigned to take a job as Parnell's senior policy adviser on energy issues.

Wilson, a 48-year-old Republican, recently lost a close contest to Democrat Luke Hopkins in the Fairbanks Borough mayor's race. She spent one year on the Borough Assembly and has worked as a neighborhood organizer.

Wilson described her unsuccessful bid for borough mayor as "a great learning experience" and said she was now looking forward to learning how things work in the Juneau Legislature.

Wilson said she's looking forward to representing the district, which extends from Fort Wainwright south of Fairbanks to Eielson Air Force Base. She said one of her priority issues will be getting natural gas and affordable energy to the area.

Wilson said another priority concern is tainted wells in North Pole. At least six households near the Flint Hills Resources refinery have wells that are contaminated with an industrial chemical used in the making of fuel. The company is testing how far the chemical has spread.

Wilson said she didn't expect to have any difficulty working with Hopkins or North Pole Mayor Doug Isaacson, another applicant for the seat. The third applicant was Mike Prax, a former Borough Assembly member and current district vice chairman for the Republican Party.

"We are all representing the residents up here," she said. "We have to come together."

A simple majority of House Republicans will have to confirm Wilson.

Wilson said she plans to run for election when the year is up.

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