Doug Letch, who has served in incoming Senate President Gary Stevens’ office for more than two decades as a legislative aide, retired on Friday. He’s been working remotely from Florida since Alaska’s legislative session ended in May, and on his first day off the job, he said he was still getting used to the new schedule.
“This is really the first weekday that I woke up this morning, and I found myself checking Alaska news websites to see what was going on. Just a little bit different. It’ll take me time to decompress,” said Letch.
Letch has been dialed into Alaska news and politics for more than two decades. He came to Alaska from Massachusetts for a job at public radio station KSKO in McGrath in 1992. He worked in Dillingham at KDLG after that, before landing in the newsroom at KMXT in Kodiak in 1996. He even started Kodiak’s Football League during his time on the island.
“Everybody that you run into in Kodiak is very interesting, everybody has a story,” said Letch.
Letch was Gary Stevens’ first hire to serve in his office when he was elected to the state legislature in 1999. And Letch said those stories from Kodiak served him in Juneau, too.
“The fact that I knew a lot of people in Kodiak, from my time at the radio station, and involvement in the community made it a little bit easier for me, I think to take on that job of being a legislative aide,” he said.
He said working as a legislative aide is like working in a public radio newsroom in more ways than one.
“You’re kind of a chameleon on a job like the legislature, just as you are as a news reporter, you’re working with a lot of different issues, a lot of different things are coming at you sometimes very quickly,” said Letch.
Sen. Stevens was recently tapped to serve as the Senate President for this upcoming legislative session. It’s a role he held over a decade ago too, from 2009 to 2012. He said he’ll miss Letch being part of the team.
“I’m just really gonna miss him,” said Stevens. “He’s been like a part of my family – he’s been with me now for 22 years.”
Letch said he has Kodiak to thank for the memories.
“You could have three weeks of really nasty weather – ice and fog and rain and wind. And the first time that sun comes out, you forget all about those, those bad days leading up to it. And those were always very special moments, and you know, it’s almost a cliche to say, but it’s the people,” said Letch.
He said he plans to enjoy living closer to family, a little more sunshine, and writing a mystery novel – to be set in Kodiak – in the years to come.