Palin greets guests at mansion

Residents visit open house to celebrate governor's arrival

Posted: Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Alaskans turned out Monday to get a look at the Governor's Mansion, but the top attraction was its new resident, Gov. Sarah Palin.

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Accompanying Palin were husband, Todd Palin; daughters Willow, Bristol and Piper; and other family members, including parents Chuck and Sally Heath; along with Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell and his family.

The crowd was a mix of Palin fans and people who seemed well on the way to becoming fans.

"She rocks," said Kathy Hosford of Skagway. "I am so excited about our future."

Palin didn't carry Juneau in the November election, but she appeared to be making up for it in moral support.

"If we give her a chance, she'll be great," said Betty Cole of Juneau.

Thousands of local residents were expected at the mansion Monday to see the grand building, sample treats and listen to local musicians.

Barbara Rhea of Juneau was one of many wandering through the elegant rooms, checking out the architecture and gingerbread man decorations.

"I've never been in here before. It's beautiful," she said, acknowledging she'd lived in Juneau for 20 years.

Rhea said the governor was very charming as well.

Palin spoke with the media briefly before the open house, and said her welcome to the capital had been wonderful. During the weekend, she said, she decided to go out and check out the town.

"I thought, 'Nobody's going to recognize me,'" she said, especially since she was bundled up and without makeup. Instead, numerous people spotted her and shouted, "Welcome to Juneau!"

"It's been nice, very nice," she said.

John Pivar of Juneau likes what he's seen of the governor so far.

"I think we are going to be in for a good four years," he said.

Standing next to Palin was husband Todd, whom state Rep.-elect Andrea Doll addressed as "First Dude" in the receiving line. Gov. Palin had earlier revealed that that's what Todd's friends had been calling him.

In an interview, Todd Palin said he hasn't yet decided which of former First Lady Nancy Murkowski's activities he'd carry on, or what new ones he might take up.

"A passion of mine has been workforce development and seeing young Alaskans given an opportunity," he said. Todd Palin is a production operator on the North Slope at a BP facility that removes water and gas from oil.

Sarah Palin said she will be heading back north quickly. She has meetings today in Fairbanks, Wednesday in Anchorage and Thursday in Fairbanks.

• Pat Forgey can be reached at patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.





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