ANCHORAGE - Gov. Sean Parnell is defending his choice of interim Alaska Fish and Game commissioner as a slew of critics began questioning her experience.
KTUU News reports that Parnell's choice of 31-year-old Cora Campbell to take the control of the $200 million agency sparked questions about her leadership experience. Critics say she lacks experience to lead such a massive agency with a reputation for attracting controversy.
Campbell takes over on Wednesday, stepping in after Commissioner Denby Lloyd retires. Campbell currently serves as the fisheries policy aide and previously worked in the seafood industry.
Parnell says Campbell understands how subsistence, sport and commercial fishing can co-exist successfully.
"A lot of people have been critical of Cora. Most have focused on her age at 31 and her gender. I think those are not relevant considerations; the question is can I get the most competent, experienced person in there who has my trust, and Cora fits that bill," Parnell said.
Myron Naneng, president of the Alaska Village Council Presidents, worries subsistence users in western Alaska will be overlooked under her watch, though.
If Campbell wants the permanent commissioner position, she will have to apply for it and be interviewed by the joint boards of fish and game. The governor then picks one of the board-approved candidates. The Legislature, then, votes on the appointment.