Thursday, June 8Welcome

Nancy Dalstrom has spent most of her 20-year political career out of the spotlight. She is now her second in command.

A blonde woman in a blazer smiles at the camera.
Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom on Dec. 9, 2022. (Elyssa Loughlin/Alaska Public Media)

Nancy Dalstrom’s entry into politics was unusual. In 2002, she ran for then-representative. Lisa Markowski at the State Capitol, which includes portions of the Eagle River and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Republican Dahlstrom ran to Markowski’s right flank and was defeated.

A year later, Governor Frank Markowski appointed his daughter Lisa Markowski to the Senate and asked Dahlstrom to replace her in Juneau. Since then, Dahlstrom has stayed in government because she loves Alaska and wants to make it a better place, she said.

“We can all make a difference. Politics don’t always go our way, but we can always work together,” she said in a recent interview.

During Dahlstrom’s 20 years in politics, she’s lived mostly out of the spotlight. She shuffled through state legislative seats, advisory roles, and commissioner appointments before running on Republican Governor Mike Dunleavy’s reelection ticket. Now she oversees the state’s electoral system as deputy commander-in-chief and is ready to take on the challenge, she said.

Dahlstrom was born in Baltimore to a military family. She finished high school in Utah and visited Alaska for the first time with her friends after her high school graduation.

“And we both loved it. And this is home and I decided to stay,” she said.

Prior to running for state legislature, Dahlstrom worked for several utility companies, including Chugach Electric, Alaskcom, and GCI, and served on regional councils.

During her seven years in the legislative branch, she earned a reputation for being sharp, honest, and willing to cooperate.

“Nancy has a deep sense of public service and wants to serve Alaska broadly,” said Beth Kertula, a former Democratic congressman in Juneau who served at the same time as Dahlstrom.

Ms Kercula said she and Mr Dahlstrom were divided on social issues, but partisan differences did not prevent cooperation.

“Nancy and I have had our disagreements at times, but you still have a working relationship and are practically almost friendships,” Kertula said.

Over the past decade, Dahlstrom has done a lot of work. She worked as an adviser in the Parnell administration and spent time in the private sector. In 2018, she ran for state legislature again and won, but she actually lost her seat because Dunleavy, who started her first term as governor, asked her to head the Department of Corrections. I never got a job.

Four years later, he reached out again, this time asking her to run for lieutenant governor.

“It’s not a phone call, did you expect it?” said Dalstrom.

Dunleavy’s first lieutenant governor, Kevin Meyer, announced last year that he would not run for re-election, saying he did not want to balance campaigning and overseeing the election.

Former Fairbanks lawmaker John Coghill said he believed Dahlstrom was ideologically aligned with Dunleavy and well versed in political issues.

“She’s probably well known in her area,” says Coghill. “But here in the interior, I think it’s probably low [name recognition]I think he was the name they were looking for because Dunleavy has a very good reputation here in interiors. ”

Dunleavy won last month’s election, but barely participated in the campaign — Dahlstrom even less.

The lieutenant governor is often overlooked and overshadowed by the governor. However, in Alaska, the area has received a lot of attention in recent years, as it has a major role in overseeing the state’s electoral system, and conservatives often question the integrity of elections. Mr Dahlstrom said he has no concerns about the integrity of the election at this time.

“If a concern about integrity arises, I’ll be the first to talk about it,” she added.

Last year’s election saw many changes. The state held its first ranked-choice elections this summer and fall. And last week, long-time Electoral Commissioner Gail Fenumiai retired.

It was clear that Dahlstrom was not calling for Fenumiai to resign.

“I think she did a good job leading our first rank selection. [election]’ said Dahlstrom.

Dahlström promised to support the policies of the electoral system as mandated by law.

“Even now, there are people who say, ‘I don’t know yet.’ And these are smart people, people who run big companies,” she said. but tries to make it difficult.”

The state Senate has suggested it is unlikely to pass abolition of ranked choice voting, but it could instead emerge as a voting initiative.

The electoral department is currently reviewing applications for the Voting Initiative to Overturn Ranked Choice Voting and the New Open Primary System. Ultimately, it’s up to her to decide if it passes the call and puts it on the next statewide vote.

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