The new administration of Gov. Sean Parnell and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell pledged to move forward with an agenda of strengthening the state's families and economy as it was sworn in Monday at an inauguration ceremony at Juneau's Centennial Hall.
Parnell, taking the reins of the state after voters resoundingly gave the former lieutenant governor his own term of office following the resignation of former Gov. Sarah Palin, promised to drive forward with his own pro-Alaska agenda, even if it means challenging powerful institutions.
"We face a federal government bent on expanding its regulatory reach at the cost of freedom and jobs," Parnell said.
"Where our national government exceeds its legal authority, we will fight it," he said.
At a ceremony attended by many state employees, including legislators, staff and those who run state government, Parnell and Treadwell were sworn in by Chief Justice Walter "Bud" Carpeneti.
The event had a decidedly local flavor to it, with John Moller serving as master of ceremonies and Dr. Walter Soboleff welcoming Parnell to Juneau.
Moller was a Juneau-based commercial fisherman when he was appointed by Palin as her rural advisor, a job he's continued under Parnell. He's an Aleut with roots in Unalaska. Soboleff is a 102-year-old Tlingit elder and Presbyterian minister.
Soboleff got a laugh when he noted the local Tlingit from the village of Auk Kwaan might have spent the summers at the site of present day downtown, but were smart enough to spend the winters elsewhere.
Soboleff likened the Native peoples' family-centered government to the family values of Parnell.
There is much Native people learned to appreciate in the current form of government as well, he said.
"They learned it was a government of the people, by the people and for the people - it's a good government," Soboleff said.
"Today we celebrate the inauguration of Sean Parnell and Mead Treadwell as the heads of the state, this is a happy occasion," he said.
Parnell, in outlining his agenda, acknowledged significant state problems in areas such as sexual assault and domestic violence that needed to be addressed, as well as goals of filling the pipeline, reducing taxes, building roads to resources and fueling more private sector jobs.
Too many people are suffering, he said, and that hurts efforts ranging from improving education to bringing more jobs.
"In our vision, Alaskans live free from fear," Parnell said.
He praised a Kotzebue school program where students have been taught how to recognize and help fellow students dealing with isolation, bullying and suicidal tendencies.
"They are genuinely concerned about their classmates," he said. "These students represent a bright future for Alaska."
Parnell said Alaska could address those issues if the federal government did not restrict its development.
"Alaskans are hard working, we're smart," Parnell said.
"We possess something that's in short supply in Washington: That's common sense," he said.
Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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