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.


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