Mark Sabbatini

Gov. Mike Dunleavy gives his State of the State address at the Alaska State Capitol on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023, in Junuea, Alaska. (Clarise Larson/Juneau Empire)

A chance ‘to change the course of Alaska’s history’

Dunleavy to deliver first State of State of 2nd term

 

Shawnda O’Brien, the just-departed state Director of the Division of Public Assistance, talks Dec. 27 about the problems that are resulting in months-long backlogs in processing applications for benefits commonly referred to as food stamps. Her departure as director was announced Monday following weeks of widespread media coverage about the backlog that is expected to take additional months to resolve. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Head of state’s troubled food stamps program replaced

Director of the Division of Public Assistance departs in wake of months-long backlog.

 

The Alaska State Capitol awaits a legislators forming new majority coalitions and the return of Gov. Mike Dunleavy after the winners of the general election were announced Wednesday. The Senate will have a 17-member bipartisan ruling coalition, while the House arrangement remains uncertain due to at least one likely recount and questions about partisan alignments. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Bipartisan majority formed for new state Senate

Eight Republicans join nine Democrats after many years of Republican rule

 

This composite image shows mopheads recently flushed down toilets in Juneau that are creating problems at the Auke Bay wastewater treatment facility. (Courtesy Photos / City and Borough of Juneau)

Flushing of mopheads down toilets causes sewage system clogs

City officials to ask for the culprits to clean up their act

This composite image shows mopheads recently flushed down toilets in Juneau that are creating problems at the Auke Bay wastewater treatment facility. (Courtesy Photos / City and Borough of Juneau)
U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka, a Republican, emerges from a voting booth with her son, Joseph, after casting her ballot Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. Tshibaka is trying to unseat U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, also a Republican, in the general election. Also in the race is Democrat Pat Chesbro. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

Alaska’s Trump-backed candidates take different post-election tracks

Dunleavy’s reelection all but official, while Tshibaka and Palin prepare to fight over “shenanigans”

U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka, a Republican, emerges from a voting booth with her son, Joseph, after casting her ballot Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. Tshibaka is trying to unseat U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, also a Republican, in the general election. Also in the race is Democrat Pat Chesbro. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
State Sen. Jesse Kiehl of Juneau, right, and lifelong Juneau resident Andrea Ebona Michel monitor election returns Tuesday night at a watch party hosted by U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola’a campaign at McGivney’s Sports Bar Grill downtown. Kiehl, a Democrat, was the lone state senator who was unopposed in his race. Both of Juneau’s Democratic state House representatives also won reelection. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Alaskans embrace red, blue and wait

Voters lean both left and right, with a lot to be decided in two weeks, in ranked choice election

State Sen. Jesse Kiehl of Juneau, right, and lifelong Juneau resident Andrea Ebona Michel monitor election returns Tuesday night at a watch party hosted by U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola’a campaign at McGivney’s Sports Bar Grill downtown. Kiehl, a Democrat, was the lone state senator who was unopposed in his race. Both of Juneau’s Democratic state House representatives also won reelection. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
A sign directs early voters to the polling station at the Mendenhall Mall on Monday. The mall is one of two early voting locations in Juneau, but more than a dozen polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Election Day is finally here

Many winners of Alaska’s first ranked choice general election won’t be known until Thanksgiving

A sign directs early voters to the polling station at the Mendenhall Mall on Monday. The mall is one of two early voting locations in Juneau, but more than a dozen polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
A variety of fliers with varying amounts of accuracy from candidates and groups are filling mailboxes leading up to the Nov. 8 general election. TV and other ads also range from pure nonsense to completely accurate, although many fall into the “true from a certain point of view” category. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Fact-checking political advertisements

What’s accurate, what’s nonsense and what’s “true from a certain point of view”

A variety of fliers with varying amounts of accuracy from candidates and groups are filling mailboxes leading up to the Nov. 8 general election. TV and other ads also range from pure nonsense to completely accurate, although many fall into the “true from a certain point of view” category. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Two residents stand in voter booths on the first day of early and absentee in-person voting across the state for the Nov. 8 general election. Recent filings for candidates in statewide races shows spending ramping up as the big day approaches. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

Spending spree as campaigns near end

APOC reports one week before election show ad blitz in governor’s race and by convention foes

Two residents stand in voter booths on the first day of early and absentee in-person voting across the state for the Nov. 8 general election. Recent filings for candidates in statewide races shows spending ramping up as the big day approaches. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
A person enters the Division of Election’s office at the Mendenhall Mall, where early voting is taking place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through Nov. 8. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Mail-in remains popular for early voters

Half of 30,000 ballots during first week of early arrive via mail, requests far above 2018 midterms

A person enters the Division of Election’s office at the Mendenhall Mall, where early voting is taking place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through Nov. 8. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola dances with others attending a reelection campaign event Monday evening at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. Peltola also attended a meet-and-greet at a coffee shop and met with local union members on Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Peltola tells Juneau crowd reelection not a ‘slam dunk,’ encourages supporters to vote

“They’re not going to underestimate us a second time.”

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola dances with others attending a reelection campaign event Monday evening at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. Peltola also attended a meet-and-greet at a coffee shop and met with local union members on Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
This combination image consisting of screenshots from the AFN convention livestream shows the four gubernatorial candidates who will appear on statewide ballots, Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Democratic former state Rep. Les Gara, Republican former Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce and independent former Gov. Bill Walker. (Screenshots)

Gubernatorial candidates take widely varying stances in AFN forum

Four contenders at AFN debate see different fixes for public safety, prison deaths and housing

This combination image consisting of screenshots from the AFN convention livestream shows the four gubernatorial candidates who will appear on statewide ballots, Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Democratic former state Rep. Les Gara, Republican former Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce and independent former Gov. Bill Walker. (Screenshots)
U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, left, acknowledges audience members singing a song of prayer for her at the Alaska Federation of Natives conference in Anchorage on Thursday. Peltola, a Democrat, is the first Alaska Native to be elected to Congress. (AP Photo / Mark Thiessen)

Peltola brings Young’s spirit to AFN

Congresswoman gets a warm welcome from convention attendees, predecessor’s family.

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, left, acknowledges audience members singing a song of prayer for her at the Alaska Federation of Natives conference in Anchorage on Thursday. Peltola, a Democrat, is the first Alaska Native to be elected to Congress. (AP Photo / Mark Thiessen)
AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
Rep. Mary Peltola is interviewed on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Sept. 12, a day before being sworn in after winning the Aug. 16 special election to fill the rest of the late Don Young’s term. The Democrat from Bethel is seeking reelection to a full two-year term in the general election against the same two Republicans she defeated in the special election.

Peltola seeks full House term in a political storm

The Alaska Native Democrat, facing likely GOP majority, says she’s ready to follow Young’s path to success

AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
Rep. Mary Peltola is interviewed on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Sept. 12, a day before being sworn in after winning the Aug. 16 special election to fill the rest of the late Don Young’s term. The Democrat from Bethel is seeking reelection to a full two-year term in the general election against the same two Republicans she defeated in the special election.
Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire
Heidi Drygas, who is running for lieutenant governor, and Bill Walker, who is running for governor, smile outside the Juneau Empire’s offices after an interview this week. Walker said he’s hopeful voters will understand his decision to draw from the Alaska Permanent Fund to fund state government.

Walker hopes voters willing to accept hard truths

Former independent governor seeking office again: “I threw myself on the permanent fund grenade.”

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire
Heidi Drygas, who is running for lieutenant governor, and Bill Walker, who is running for governor, smile outside the Juneau Empire’s offices after an interview this week. Walker said he’s hopeful voters will understand his decision to draw from the Alaska Permanent Fund to fund state government.
Courtesy Photo / Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition
Workers replace a failed log culvert with a small foot bridge over Switzer Creek in a project funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with some materials provided by the Alaskan Brewing Company. The federal government on Thursday announced an additional $1 billion in grants is being made available during the next five years for culvert repairs in areas where fish passage is blocked.

Cash flow: $1B in fed funds for freer fish

Grants to replace culverts impeding streams available to tribal, local and state governments

Courtesy Photo / Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition
Workers replace a failed log culvert with a small foot bridge over Switzer Creek in a project funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with some materials provided by the Alaskan Brewing Company. The federal government on Thursday announced an additional $1 billion in grants is being made available during the next five years for culvert repairs in areas where fish passage is blocked.
Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire
Les Gara is photographed outside of the Juneau Empire’s offices following an interview earlier this week. The former Anchorage lawmaker is the lone Democratic candidate in Alaska’s gubernatorial race.

Gara sticks to steady message on rocky campaign trail

Former Anchorage lawmaker seeking to become first Democrat elected governor since 1998.

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire
Les Gara is photographed outside of the Juneau Empire’s offices following an interview earlier this week. The former Anchorage lawmaker is the lone Democratic candidate in Alaska’s gubernatorial race.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Les Gara, left, discusses hospitality industry issues during a forum Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, with independent candidate Bill Walker, right, at Louie’s Douglas Inn. The forum was hosted by the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association, with the organization’s president and CEO Sarah Oates acting as the moderator. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)

Walker, Gara get into a bar debate

Candidates for governor talk about serving, shortages and ships during industry forum in Juneau

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Les Gara, left, discusses hospitality industry issues during a forum Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, with independent candidate Bill Walker, right, at Louie’s Douglas Inn. The forum was hosted by the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association, with the organization’s president and CEO Sarah Oates acting as the moderator. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Melanie Hardin, right, greets the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s Board of Trustees before her interview for the APFC’s executive director’s job Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Juneau, (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Permanent Fund board picks new executive director

Trustees work overtime selecting from three candidates after interviews Monday

Melanie Hardin, right, greets the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s Board of Trustees before her interview for the APFC’s executive director’s job Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Juneau, (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Bob Bird, left, chairman of the Alaskan Independence Party, and former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman make the case in favor of a state constitutional convention during a debate in Anchorage broadcast Thursday by Alaska Public Media. (Screenshot from Alaska Public Media’s YouTube channel)

Constitutional convention debate gets heated

Abortion, PFD factor into forum.

Bob Bird, left, chairman of the Alaskan Independence Party, and former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman make the case in favor of a state constitutional convention during a debate in Anchorage broadcast Thursday by Alaska Public Media. (Screenshot from Alaska Public Media’s YouTube channel)