Commerce boss takes leave to campaign for Walker

Commerce boss takes leave to campaign for Walker

Mike Navarre takes leave of absence to work on governor’s re-election bid

Mike Navarre, head of the state department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, has temporarily left his job in order to campaign for incumbent Gov. Bill Walker.

In an email to department employees this week, Navarre wrote, “I intend to focus a significant amount of my personal time and energy in the coming weeks on the upcoming election. As such, I have decided to take a leave of absence until early November so I can focus on advocating for the candidates and issues that are of great concern to me.”

“I think it’s fairly unusual for commissioners to do this,” Navarre said by phone on Thursday morning, but he felt it was important to do.

“It’s one of those things where I really wanted to help the governor with the campaign, and it’s one of those decisions where I can do it in my spare time, but I want to do more,” he said.

State law prohibits government employees from spending state time or resources on partisan political campaigns.

Navarre’s leave of absence started Wednesday and is effective through Election Day, Nov. 5.

In the meantime, deputy commissioner Fred Parady will be the department’s lead official, the letter states. In a public notice dated Wednesday, Navarre named interim replacements to the many boards and commissions that count the commissioner among their members.

“It meant my calendar just blew up,” Parady said by phone.

While he might now be busy, “in terms of the department, it’s steady as she goes,” Parady said.

This is the third time in four years that Parady has served as interim commissioner. “I’m familiar with it,” he said.

Navarre was appointed commissioner last fall when then-commissioner Chris Hladick was named director of the federal Environmental Protection Agency office for the northwestern United States and Alaska. Navarre had been mayor of the Kenai Peninsula Borough for six years and had supported Walker’s fiscal efforts during that time.

By phone, he said the economic development efforts of the Department of Commerce require a good fiscal plan, and getting that plan requires some campaigning. His deputies and division heads are prepared and ready to take over, he said.

Campaign finance reports show Navarre is a firm supporter of Walker. Navarre contributed the legal maximum to the campaigns of Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott this year and last, and he has contributed more than $1,200 to the Tongass Democrats, plus thousands more to candidates for public office. Navarre has generally supported progressive candidates, but he also contributed this year to the re-election efforts of Rep. Jennifer Johnston, R-Anchorage and Sen. Mia Costello, R-Anchorage. Last year, he donated to the senatorial campaign of Kevin Meyer, now the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.


• Contact reporter James Brooks at jbrooks@juneauempire.com or 523-2258.


More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of May 22, 2022

Here’s what to expect this week.

Coast Guard aircrews medevaced two people from Dry Bay Airstrip, approximately 30 miles Southeast of Yakutat, Alaska, after their plane crashed, May 25, 2022. (Courtesy photo / Coast Guard District 17)
Three medevaced after plane crash near Yakutat

All four aboard were injured, three critically so.

The author’s appreciation for steelhead has turned into something like reverence considering what’s happening to populations in the Lower 48 and Canada. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)
I Went to the Woods: Silent steel

“You forget most of what ends up in the freezer, but those steelhead, they stick with you.”

Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, seen here in this June 16, 2021, file photo, announced Wednesday he will not seek relelection in the Alaska State Senate, where he has served since 2013. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)
Senate president says he won’t run again

“Honor and a privilege.”

Hoonah’s Alaska Youth Stewards helped make improvements to Moby and water the plants in summer 2021. (Courtesy Photo / Jillian Schuyler)
Resilient Peoples & Place: Moby the Mobile Greenhouse cultivates community

It presents opportunities to grow food knowledge and skills.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Thursday, May 26, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Alaska Supreme Court orders use of interim map for elections

The decision came just over a week before the June 1 filing deadline for the August primaries.

Most Read