It was announced on Tuesday that House Democratic Leader Beth Kerttula (D-Juneau) is resigning her seat in the Alaska House of Representatives to accept a position as a visiting fellow at Stanford University's Center for Ocean Solutions.
Her seat resignation will be effective January 24th, her position as House Democratic Leader was effective immediately. Kerttula will begin at Stanford on February 3rd. House Democratic Whip Chris Tuck D-Anchorage) will fill the position vacated by Kerttula and House Democratic Floor Leader Max Gruenberg (D-Anchorage) will step into the Whip position that Tuck is leaving to become House Democratic Leader.
Tuck made a statement after Kerttula’s announcement. “Beth has been a great leader. We will miss her knowledge, experience, and guidance, and we wish her the best. She’s certainly the right person for the job,” said Tuck. “I appreciate the faith and trust our members have in me. We have a strong and capable caucus, and we’re still focused on the jobs the voters sent us here to do. We are confident House Democratic legislators will still have a positive impact for Alaskans this session.”
“While I have been blessed to serve my constituents in this body, I see this new opportunity as a chance to continue serving Alaska by bringing an Alaskan voice and an Alaskan perspective to ocean policy that will certainly have an impact on Alaska,” said Kerttula.
Kerttula was selected by Stanford because of her experience, history and knowledge working with coastal community issues and policies, as well as the relationships she has built with Alaska’s policy-makers. During her time there, Kerttula will bring federal, state, and regional decision makers from Alaska, Washington State, Oregon, and California together to discuss policy related to the interplay between oceans, climate and society. The fellowship at Stanford is for one year and can be renewed for a further one year. Kerttula says she intends to return to Juneau after her fellowship comes to a close.
Executive director of the Center for Ocean Solutions at Stanford, Meg Caldwell, said she was excited to have Kerttula join the Stanford team and said, “Her insights from serving as a state lawmaker, her experience with ocean and coastal policy, as well as her relationships with the very people we’re hoping to bring together make her the perfect fit.”
Mike Wenstrup, the chair of the Alaska Democratic Party said after Kerttula’s announcement, “Alaskans are thankful to Representative Kerttula for her service. It is fitting that she is continuing a path of public service as she goes to work on ocean science at Stanford.”
Under state law, the governor has thirty days to appoint a new representative to the vacated seat. The governor traditionally chooses the replacement from a list provided by local party officials. In this case, the District 32’s local party organization is the Tongass Democrats.