Chenault questions the process for Fish and Game finalists

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Saturday, January 17, 2015 7:44pm
  • News

JUNEAU — House Speaker Mike Chenault on Friday questioned the nominating process for Fish and Game commissioner and the treatment of finalist Roland Maw by the Board of Fisheries.

The boards of fisheries and game met Wednesday to send a list of commissioner candidates to Gov. Bill Walker. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported the Board of Game voted to give Maw an interview but the Board of Fisheries voted unanimously to not interview him. His application died.

Ultimately, the only name advanced was that of acting commissioner Sam Cotten.

In a letter to Walker, Chenault, R-Nikiski, called the Board of Fisheries’ action unconscionable and said it appeared as if it were a setup.

Chenault, who raised concerns with Walker’s recent shakeup of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. board, suggested that Walker consider replacing the Board of Fisheries with members who would support an open process. Chenault said Maw, who is executive director of the United Cook Inlet Drift Association, is well qualified.

“An explanation of the Board’s actions would be appreciated,” Chenault wrote.

Walker, in a statement, said he shares Chenault’s disappointment that Maw did not get an interview. He said he contacted Maw as soon as he was notified that the boards had sent him only one name.

Walker said he did not have any communication with the boards before or after the decision “but will emphasize that in the future they hold a public and open process.”

He also said he holds Cotten in high regard and that Cotten would make an excellent commissioner.

By law, the governor is to appoint a commissioner from a list of nominees advanced by the boards of fisheries and game. However, the governor has the right to request additional nominations.

Walker spokeswoman Grace Jang said Walker plans to talk to the boards before deciding whether to request additional names.

The appointment will be subject to legislative confirmation.

An email seeking comment was sent to the executive director of the Board of Fisheries.

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