Kodiak Delegation Skeptical of Campbell’s Selection

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Jacob Resneck/KMXT

Sean Parnell’s pick of Cora Campbell as commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game is being met with skepticism from Kodiak’s legislative delegation.

Campbell still needs to be confirmed by the legislature and some of its members are already expressing reservations over the 31 year old former fisheries advisor.

Senate President Gary Stevens of Kodiak says he’s concerned by her lack of academic background common in previous commissioners. Her predecessor Denby Lloyd was a trained biologist with decades of experience working for the agency.

— (commissioner 1 :09 "I personally have some … biological experience.")

Several recent high-level departures at Fish and Game have made room at the top. Its commercial fisheries director left along with Lloyd. So did an assistant and deputy commissioner, taking with them their institutional knowledge.

State House Rep. Alan Austerman of Kodiak says that’s not a good setup for someone who doesn’t have executive leadership experience.

— (commissioner 2 :45 "I do have concerns … it does raise concerns."

Campbell had served as the governor’s fisheries advisor since 2007 when she was appointed by then-Governor Sarah Palin. More recently she also served as the governor’s designee to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Her appointment has won plaudits from some, including the United Fisherman of Alaska, whose president has called Campbell "uniquely qualified."

But Austerman says her confirmation isn’t guaranteed.

— (commissioner 3 :08 "I think time will tell … confirmed or not."

Then there’s the question of process. The commissioner is chosen from a list drawn up by a joint board comprised of members from the state’s board of fish and board of game. Parnell appointed Campbell interim commissioner and publicly endorsed her as a permanent replacement before the deadline for applications had even closed. Only one other person applied, a former chairman of the board of game.

Stevens said Parnell’s early endorsement of Campbell didn’t allow the nomination process to run its course.

— (commissioner 4 :35 "In the past the board has … what happened this time."

Whether or not all of this will keep her from being confirmed during the legislative session, both legislators said they’d have to poll more of their colleagues to gauge Campbell’s support. Both lawmakers said the confirmation hearings likely won’t be scheduled until near the end of the 90-day session.

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