Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy answers a reporter’s question before the start of a holiday open house at the governor’s mansion on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, in Juneau, Alaska. The open house doubled as an inaugural event for Dunleavy, who took office last week. (Becky Bohrer | Associated Press File)

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy answers a reporter’s question before the start of a holiday open house at the governor’s mansion on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, in Juneau, Alaska. The open house doubled as an inaugural event for Dunleavy, who took office last week. (Becky Bohrer | Associated Press File)

Opinion: Dunleavy administration needs to include diverse viewpoints

This is how successful leaders have been effective.

It was a symbolic and precedent setting decision by our new governor Mike Dunleavy to hold his swearing in ceremony in rural Alaska. It was evidence of his proclamation of the way he was going to govern, by restoring trust in the people in all of Alaska. That apparently doesn’t mean anyone who doesn’t hold the right political views despite doing their job exceptionally well.

That is the case with the firing of two state attorneys, Libby Bakalar and Ruth Botstein, both who have on their own time expressed differing views than the governor on social issues. Their rhetoric is from social media and clearly protected under First Amendment rights.

It is typical in any new administration that the governor gets to choose their own governing team. They have the right to choose who they want and demand loyalty to carrying out policy decisions. This doesn’t mean that the assembled team should be filled with candidates who are all of one mind of thinking. A litmus test of political thinking would not allow the governor to hear dissenting points of view that come up on almost any issue. Alaska is a huge state in not only geography, but it may also be the largest state in the expanse of opinions.

The decision-making process is an important part of any good government. A full vetting of all points, and all sides of the issues, is important for understanding the issues put before the governor. Without a dialectic decision-making process, crafting good policy for all Alaskans would be difficult to achieve.

What the governor should strive for is a staff that voices views from many different sectors of Alaska and then truly makes a decision that is best for all of Alaska. However, the time for honest open debate is before policy is decided. The governor has a right to choose staff that he believes will close ranks and follow through on his decisions.

This is how our most successful leaders have been effective. Abraham Lincoln’s “team of rivals” is the classic example. Lincoln included on is staff the very people who disagreed with him while running for office so that he could hear their points of view and make the best decisions.

One of those was William Seward who now has a statue in front of our capitol. A contemporary version of Lincoln naming Seward to his staff, would be if Dunleavy were to name Mark Begich to his cabinet. It might be a little unfair to the governor to ask him to display that kind of self assurance, but I hope he can create an administration that has the courage to truly represent the views of all Alaskans.


• Larry Johansen is a lifelong Alaskan. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.


More in Opinion

Web
Have something to say?

Here’s how to add your voice to the conversation.

Kate Troll (Courtesy Photo / Kate Troll)
Opinion: The real ‘at last!’ on climate change

In Alaska, the Inflation Reduction Act offers come game-changing features.

t
Opinion: Let’s keep the mandatory real property disclosure ordinance

It will better ensure fair, accurate and efficient property tax assessments and collections.

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: Playing the old-timer card

Is the Empire really only interested in the problems faced by small communities?

Heavy metals run out of the Tulsequah Chief mine opening and down to holding ponds next to the Tulsequah River Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file)
Opinion: Officials must keep up pressure to clean up BC mine

In March 2017 I had a Commentary published Pacific Fishing Magazine imploring… Continue reading

Former Gov. Bill Walker, right, and his running mate former commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development Heidi Drygas, speak to Juneauites gathered for a fundraiser at a private home in Juneau on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Why I’m voting for Walker

Walker is the only candidate with the potential to govern effectively for all Alaskans.

t
Opinion: The time has come to end Big Tech’s rule

The internet has opened doors and pathways to more than we could… Continue reading

Nick Begich III campaign materials sit on tables ahead of a May 16 GOP debate held in Juneau. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Nick Begich is who Alaska and America need now

It is in Alaska’s best interest to elect a member of the Republican party.

teaser
Opinion: If you see something, say something

Together we can fight to preserve this pristine place we live.

This photo shows the University of Alaska Southeast campus in Juneau. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: I’m a longtime educator, and I’m supporting Walker/Drygas

The issues our state faces are significant with regard to education.

t
Opinion: Congress could keep health insurance costs from rising, but it has to act fast

Some argue that the federal government paid out far too much money… Continue reading

signs
Opinion: A conversation about mental health

All in all, we want you to know that you are not alone.