Governor Dunleavy appoints two Kodiak locals to Alaska Marine Highway Operations Board

Two of three of Governor Mike Dunleavy’s appointments to a new ferry oversight board are from Kodiak Island. 

Gov. Dunleavy’s office announced Friday that former Kodiak lawmaker Alan Austerman and Old Harbor village corporation executive Cynthia Berns would have seats on the Alaska Marine Highway Operations Board created this year by the legislature. Austerman is a former Kodiak city police officer. Berns grew up on Old Harbor and is now a vice president for Old Harbor Native Corporation.

Austerman said that appointing a coastal resident from somewhere like Kodiak was a logical choice. 

“They’ve been struggling for a number of years trying to figure out what’s the best way to operate that highway system, marine highway system.  I think I bring a certain amount of common sense and efficiency- looking mind towards how to handle that system and make it more efficient,” Austerman said. 

Dunleavy’s third pick is retired Alaska State Trooper Norm Carson from the Southeast village of Pelican. He’s a member of the Marine Transportation Advisory Board, which the new board will replace to steer the future of the marine highway system.

These appointees will be responsible for issuing recommendations and reports regarding the statewide transportation improvement program. In addition to the Governor’s appointees, Kodiak Republican House Speaker Louise Stutes and Kenai Peninsula Republican Senate President Peter Micciche will be charged with naming two members each to the new Marine Highway Operations Board.

House Bill 63 created the oversight board giving state lawmakers more oversight of the beleaguered ferry system. 

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