Kodiak Island Borough assembly member Carol Austerman and former assembly member Louise Stutes announced their bids for the seat for District 32 in March. Kodiak’s current representative, Alan Austerman, has not announced a re-election run.
When the 29th Alaska Legislature convenes in 2015, Kodiak, now part of District 35, will join Cordova, Seldovia, Tyonek and other Gulf of Alaska coastal communities in the newly drawn District 32.
Walker, a Republican like the other House candidates, works as deputy projects manager for Kodiak Support Services, the civilian maintenance provider for Coast Guard Base Kodiak. He was elected to a three-year term on the city council in 2012.
“Something told me this is the time to do this,” Walker said about running for the House.
As priorities for government, he named support of fisherman and the fishing industry, infrastructure and education.
Walker came to Alaska from Missouri in 1980 and worked eight years as a roughneck in Prudhoe Bay. He married into a Kodiak family with ties to fishing and raised six children, the youngest now 12. He has also worked for Alaska Energy Authority out of Anchorage and run his own environmental cleanup business.
Walker said supporters have encouraged him to run for the state-level office because of his effectiveness in local projects and organizations. He has served as president of the Kodiak Football League and worked to bring artificial turf to the sports fields at Baranof Park. He is also a member of the Elks Club and the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
“A lot of people get tied up in politics and forget exactly who they’re representing,” he said. “We’re all about kids and family here in town.”
Walker said the loss of opportunity and infrastructure poses a threat to District 32 and the state.
“All of these small communities in Alaska are shrinking right now,” he said. “They’re trying to grow their communities and bring in new opportunities for families there.”
Walker thinks the state can help local economies.
“We’re going to work hard and turn things around, and we’re going to have a lot going on here in Alaska in the next 10 to 20 years,” he said. He plans travel including Seldovia, Yakutat, Cordova and Kodiak’s villages in the course of the campaign.
Noting the important role of the Coast Guard in Kodiak, Walker said he hopes that role will grow with the increase in great circle and Arctic freight traffic.
“Kodiak would be a great place to support that and bring in jobs and opportunities,” he said.
Walker said he has enjoyed learning the process of government while serving on the city council and he believes he can use the experience in Juneau.
“The city’s all about infrastructure,” he said.
Walker has visited Juneau to lobby for the city and said he was able to use his communications skills and get familiar with the system there. He noted that Gov. Sean Parnell told him the state looks to Kodiak as a leader in education and green energy.
“I feel like Kodiak is my home and the people here are my family,” Walker said.