Lawmakers get second chance to confirm Ruffner

  • Thursday, February 4, 2016 4:32pm
  • Opinion

Here we go again.

Gov. Bill Walker this week nominated Robert Ruffner to a seat on the Alaska Board of Fisheries, giving the Soldotna resident and former executive director of the Kenai Watershed Forum a second opportunity to sit on the board that sets state fishing regulations.

More significantly, Walker’s nomination of Ruffner gives Alaska’s legislators a second opportunity at a confirmation process that fell far short of expectations last year.

Ruffner’s confirmation last year became politicized — to say the least — with opponents to his nomination floating arguments that, under even the lightest of scrutiny by lawmakers, should’ve been dismissed as bunk. It was argued, for example, that because commercial fishing advocacy groups supported his nomination, Ruffner would favor commercial fishing — nevermind that he describes himself as an active personal-use fishery participant. And it was suggested that the seat for which Ruffner was nominated was supposed to go to a sport fishing advocate, and that geographical representation should play a role — nevermind that Alaska state law says nothing of the sort.

And with that, Ruffner’s confirmation failed on a 30-29 vote.

This session, we hope things are different. Gov. Walker’s slate of nominees — Alan Cain of Anchorage and Israel Payton of Wasilla also were nominated to the board — suggests a vision for a board that seeks balance through consensus-building, rather than a body of members balanced only by their opposing points of view. Perhaps Ruffner’s greatest accomplishment during his time with the Watershed Forum was his ability to get groups who seemingly have nothing in common — oil companies and conservation organizations, for example — to find common ground and work together on projects.

The board process, without a doubt, can use more of that type of thinking.

Perhaps the Legislature could take a cue as well.

More in Opinion

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: The foolish men claiming self-defense

It’s not just misguided teenagers carrying guns who find themselves in trouble with the law.

Larry Persily (Peninsula Clarion file)
Opinion: State defends its right to cut nonexistent taxes

This from a state that has no property tax on homes or businesses, only on the oil industry.

Dr. Jay Butler, former chief medical officer for the State of Alaska, is seen in this undated photo. (Courtesy photo)
Alaska Voices: Feeling grateful this Thanksgiving for the COVID vaccines

The COVID vaccines remain our strongest tool in combating the pandemic and helping us return to our lives and the things we love and cherish.

A resident casts their vote in the regular municipal election Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Voices of the Peninsula: All votes matter

In the beginning, only property-holding white men could vote.

Cristen San Roman. (Photo provided)
Point of View: Is management of Cook Inlet catered to special interest groups?

If these fish are so at risk, why is BOEM able to move forward with lease sale 258?

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Grateful for the hidden ‘good’

Gratitude: Noun The state of being grateful; thankfulness. The state or quality… Continue reading

Homer High School Principal Douglas Waclawski. (Photo provided)
Point of View: What is Homer High School about?

What I consider Homer High’s strength is that we are a place for learning.

UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell. (courtesy photo)
Alaska Voices: Invent your future at UAA

At UAA we’re providing the tools to help students of all ages and skills chart a new course forward.

A registered nurse prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at the pop-up clinic on the Spit on May 27. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Alaska Voices: Vaccination is the still best protection from COVID-19

The Alaska State Medical Association encourages you to protect yourselves and your community from preventable illness by getting recommended vaccines.

(Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
The sad diminishment of Rep. Don Young

Young seems afraid to demand his party leader defend the dignity of the institution he loves.

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Alaska Voices: Restore our strong campaign donation limits

Without campaign spending limits, the ideal of one person, one vote is no longer really true.

The Final Redistricting Map approved for the Anchorage and Matanuska-Susitna area is seen on Nov. 9, 2021. (Map via
Alaska Voices: The Alaska Redistricting Board’s last-minute gerrymandering failed Alaska

Our Constitution outlines rules for a redistricting process designed to uphold public trust.