Ruffner unanimously passes through first confirmation hearing

  • By Rashah McChesney
  • Friday, April 3, 2015 4:07pm
  • News
Ruffner unanimously passes through first confirmation hearing

After about an hour of testimony and questions, the House Resources committee on Friday moved Robert Ruffner forward in his quest to gain a seat on Alaska’s Board of Fisheries.

Ruffner, a longtime Kenai Peninsula resident and outgoing executive director of the Kenai Watershed Forum, was appointed by Gov. Bill Walker on March 23 and faces confirmation hearings in the Legislature before he can take the position.

The Board of Fisheries is tasked with setting statewide fisheries regulations.

During his opening comments, Ruffner told the 9-member committee that he was looking forward to a job that would fulfill his need to learn and expand his horizons.

“I really have a strong commitment to public service and public process and the Board of Fisheries is unique, when we look at how fisheries are managed across the state,” Ruffner said. “In preparing for this, I’ve learned that there are 84 advisory committees across the state, almost 900 people serving on those advisory committees. They have the ability to provide a wealth of knowledge to the seven members of the board.”

Ruffner said he looked forward to taking part in the public process involved in setting fisheries regulation in the state.

The vast majority of the written and verbal public comment taken by the House Resources committee during the hearing were in support of Ruffner’s nomination.

However one Soldotna man, Don Johnson, spoke out against Ruffner’s nomination. Johnson, a sportfishing guide from Soldotna, sought to draw parallels between the Kenai Watershed Forum and commercial fishermen in the Cook Inlet.

“KWF only masquerades as an environmental organization, it is really a commercial fisheries entity,” Johnson wrote, in his comments to the committee.

“I believe Robert Ruffner works for commercial fisheries special interest and cannot hope to fairly represent sport fish users.”

Rep. Bob Herron, D-Bethel, asked Ruffner about Johnson’s opinion.

“I would say that anybody that stands for something at some point in time is going to have some enemies,” Ruffner said. “I am very proud of what I’ve stood for, working for the Kenai Watershed Forum. We have done some very important work on the Kenai Peninsula … we were actually the organization that put a lot of people together in the same room and came up with a plan to take some water quality information.”

Several people testified from Legislative Information Offices statewide on Ruffner’s appointment, including Kenai City Council Member Brian Gabriel, who read the city’s recent resolution supporting Ruffner’s appointment.

Kenai Area Fisherman’s Coalition Chairman Ed Schmitt said he represented the personal use fishermen, private anglers and ecologists who formed the coalition, and the group supports Ruffner. Schmitt said the Board of Fisheries needed to consider science-based fisheries management to form sound state policy.

“Robert Ruffner is an excellent scientist,” Schmitt said.

Before the committee decided forward Robert Ruffner’s name onto a joint legislative confirmation hearing Rep. Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, said moving Ruffner’s name along in the process didn’t necessarily mean that members of the committee would ultimately support his nomination.

Reach Rashah McChesney at

or follow her on Twitter @litmuslens.

More in News

The Seward welcome sign is photographed in July 2021. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward vice mayor and council member resigns

The council accept the resignation of Tony Baclaan during its Monday night meeting.

Ben Mohr watches Kenai River Junior Classic participants head out to fish on the Kenai River in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
Mohr resigns as director of KRSA

He has been the executive director of KRSA for nearly three years.

Heather and Hunter Phillips walk through the Kenai Community Library Haunted Hunt with their mom Kumi Phillips on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Scary reads

Spooky literary characters come to life at Kenai library haunted house.

Alaska state Rep. Laddie Shaw, an Anchorage Republican, waits for the start of a so-called technical session on the House floor, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. The fourth special legislative session of the year began Oct. 4, in Juneau, but there has been little action at the Capitol and little progress toward resolving Alaska’s fiscal issues. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)
Special session plods on with little action

Many legislative offices have been dark and floor sessions in some cases have lasted seconds.

The Kenai Community Library health section is seen on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. After the Kenai City Council postponed a vote to approve a grant funding health and wellness books, community members set up a GoFundMe to support the purchase of materials. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
After cries of censorship, community raises funds for library

The Kenai City Council voted during its Oct. 20 meeting to postpone acceptance of a $1,500 grant for materials related to health and wellness.

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. (CDC)
11 new deaths reported

Statewide there were 244 COVID-related hospitalizations as of Tuesday, with 37 of them on ventilators.

Rep. Don Young talks during a June 2021 interview with the Empire. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Young to face off with a Begich yet again

Young, 88, seemed unfazed by Begich’s entry into the race.

A remote galaxy captured by the Hubble Space Telescope is greatly magnified and distorted by the effects of gravitationally warped space. (Image via NASA)
Grant brings NASA to library

The grant supports science, technology, engineering, arts and math programming for patrons.

Most Read