Alaska’s newest elections director under Gov. Mike Dunleavy's administration is a returning official who served under two previous governors.

Gail Fenumiai’s return to the state Division of Elections’ top job was announced Friday by Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer’s office. Her appointment, succeeding Josie Bahnke, becomes effective on Jan 2.

"Gail has the skills, wisdom, experience and judgement to restore Alaskans’ faith and trust in our elections process and that is exactly what we pledge to do," Meyer said.

Josh Applebee, a spokesman for Meyer’s office, said Fenumiai was among several applicants for the job including Bahnke, because “she had asked to stay on as well.” He said word was still pending on where the state might stand in considering a vote-by-mail system for its precincts, an idea backed by the League of Women Voters in Alaska.

“The lieutenant governor is very cautious about moving forward with a vote-by-mail system as Anchorage has,” Applebee said.

Fenumiai spent nearly two decades with the division in roles ranging from elections coordinator, information officer and program specialist, before serving as elections director from 2008 to 2015 – a time period spanning much of Sean Parnell and Bill Walker’s tenures as governor.

Bahnke succeeded Fenumiai in 2015, as the Associated Press reported the state was settling a lawsuit regarding Alaska Native languages’ use in ballot materials.

Lauri Wilson, currently the state’s Region I elections supervisor, will serve as interim director until Fenumiai’s formal return.

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