The joint boards of fisheries and game approved two applicants for commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, including Gov. Sean Parnell’s pick to head the agency.
At the Tuesday meeting, the joint boards forwarded Cora Campbell and Ron Somerville to Parnell as qualified for the commissioner job. Parnell has stated his intention to nominate Campbell, who must be approved by the full Legislature.
Unlike other cabinet positions that are forwarded directly to the Legislature for approval, the board approval process is required for the Fish and Game and Education departments.
Campbell’s selection by Parnell raised eyebrows for her age, 31, and lack of executive experience. Campbell, the fisheries policy aide to both governors since 2007, didn’t attract any competition outside of Somerville, though. Somerville is a former chairman of the Board of Game and former executive director of the Alaska Outdoor Council.
At the Dec. 21 meeting, Board of Fisheries Chairman Vince Webster of King Salmon — who was also a member of the subcommittee that conducted interviews — said interviews with both candidates went “really well.”
“They’re both very knowledgeable of the questions we asked them and of the system,” Webster said. “We did discuss experience, but we felt that both candidates were qualified to pass on to the governor for recommendation.”
Ted Spraker, a member of the Board of Game from Soldotna and of the joint board subcommittee, echoed Webster.
“I thought both candidates did an outstanding job,” Spraker said. “They answered all the questions without hesitation and did a good job as far as fielding all the questions we had on the list plus additional questions the committee had. I feel confident supporting both of them for the Department of Fish and Game.”
The motion to forward both names to Parnell was made by Board of Fisheries member Karl Johnstone of Anchorage and seconded by fellow BOF member John Jensen of Petersburg.