Alaska Native leaders are supporting Lt. Gov. Byron Mallot’s Monday decision to appoint Nome City Manager, Josie Bahnke as the new director of the Division of Elections. The decision was deemed controversial in light of Bahnke’s lack of experience with electoral process.
She comes to us with a great resume,” said Kim Reitmeier, president of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Regional Associaion. “She mentioned she’s got a steep learning curve ahead of her and we’re anxious to help her with that.”
Reitmeier hopes that Bahnke will help bring Alaska into a new era of voting options. “It’s more than Alaska Native issues, it’s all of Alaska. We are significantly behind the times in technology in what we do,” she said.
Meanwhile, Governor Sean Parnell is calling the former head of the department, Gail Fenumiai, a “true non-partisan.” In a statement to Channel 2, Parnell wrote that Fenumiai “made vast improvements in voter security.” He also said she “led in making dramatic progress in language assistance for Alaska voters.” He went on to add that Fenumiai “increased access and availability of voting to Alaskans”.
Mallott asked for and accepted the former director’s resignation Friday before announcing his decision to appoint Bahnke in her place.
Fenumiai served as head of the division since 2008. Bahnke will start her new position on October 1.