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House minority leader resigns

By Rhonda McBride 2:11 PM January 21, 2014

House minority whip Rep. Chris Tuck will replace Rep. Beth Kerttula as House minority leader.

ANCHORAGE – A surprise announcement marked the opening day of the 2014 legislative session.

The House minority leader stepped down Tuesday: Rep. Beth Kerttula’s resignation is effective Friday, just four days into the session.

The Juneau Democrat announced she is leaving to become a visiting fellow at Stanford University, where she will work for the Center for Ocean Solutions.

Kerttula calls it a perfect fit, combining her experience in state government, knowledge of coastal issues and ocean policy. She will be working with leaders from Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California, as well as the federal government, to look at the scientific and legal issues affecting oceans.

So who will fill Kerttula’s leadership role in the House?

The House minority whip, Rep. Chris Tuck, (D) Anchorage, will move up to minority leader.

As for her seat in the legislature, it’s up to local Juneau Democrats to make the next move. The Tongass Democrats, a volunteer organization of Democrats in House Districts 33 and 34, as well as Senate District P, must submit three candidates to Governor Sean Parnell, who will select the finalist. The governor will forward his choice to the House Democratic Caucus for confirmation. Democrats, who have joined the Republican majority, will be included in that process.

The governor has 30 days to select a candidate.

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