The city of Juneau will have a second lobbyist to represent its interests in the state Legislature come January.
After a closed-door executive session Monday, the Juneau Assembly voted unanimously to offer former state Sen. Jerry Mackie a $40,000, one-year associate lobbying contract. He'll join current city lobbyist Clark Gruening, whose $60,000-a-year contract with the city was renewed earlier this year, according to Mayor Sally Smith.
Mackie served in the House from 1990 to 1996 and the Senate from 1997 to 2000, switching party affiliation from Democrat to Republican during his tenure. In the Senate, he represented a coastal district that stretches from Metlakatla to Kodiak.
Since then, Mackie has been the government relations manager for the Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. State ethics code prohibits former legislators from lobbying the Legislature until a year after they leave office.
"I'm leaving my current job with Alyeska Pipeline in Anchorage to go on my own as a lobbyist," Mackie said. "I can't legally do that until Jan. 8 when one year is up, so nothing will happen until that date."
Mackie moved to Anchorage a few months ago, but has lived in Juneau for the "better part of the last 11 years," he said. He maintains a Juneau residence.
"I'm obviously real excited about the opportunity to work with the mayor and the Assembly and Clark Gruening," he said. "I have strong ties to the community and have always strongly supported maintaining the capital in Juneau."
Assembly member Ken Koelsch said Mackie was selected because of his recent service in the Alaska Legislature, knowledge of the Senate, 11 years as a Juneau resident and ability to interface with legislators in Anchorage when the Legislature isn't in session.
"We have a pretty full slate of projects we want to see funded," he said. "We want to be able to cover more of our bases in the House, Senate and governor's office."
Koelsch said the city is very cognizant of attempts to move the Legislature.
"We want to make sure we are on top of that one," he said.
Assembly member Don Etheridge said the Assembly also was looking for someone with a Republican background and good connections. And he said capital projects were another reason why the Assembly wanted to hire an associate lobbyist.
"We'll need a lot of help," he said. "We're looking at harbor funds, the high school and the armory."
The city's decision to hire a second lobbyist in no way is a reflection on Gruening's performance, Mayor Smith said. About eight people applied for the associate lobbyist position, she said.
"We're really hopeful this is an investment that will have a good return for Juneau," she said, listing the battle against a legislative move as the city's main priority.
While Smith said party politics didn't fit into her decision, she said it may have been a factor for others.
"The Legislature runs on a partisan basis; the Assembly doesn't," said Smith, who used to represent Fairbanks in the state House. "I try not to view it as a partisan issue, but I do know from having served in the Legislature that party politics are the name of the game up there."
Starting next month, Mackie also will represent Alyeska Pipeline, Cook Inlet Region Inc., Holland America and Arctic Slope Regional Corp. subsidiaries Natchiq Inc. and Petro Star Inc.
Gruening couldn't be reached for comment.
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