Governor Walker: From a 20-something in public service, thank you

Dear Governor Walker,

It’s been a long weekend since your Friday announcement.

When I received the text at AFN, I left my regional caucus for the Convention floor. There was a thought I had that day, that good people don’t always win, and there is not always justice for good men, and women.

There have been several conversations with friends and colleagues in the days following your campaign suspension; as 20-somethings in public service, many of us are still early in our careers. I know you feel like you’ve let thousands of Alaskans down. However, what I can share is that you’ve set an example for us to follow, for life.

In 2016, I was a staffer working in Juneau. You again put forth a budget plan, when Alaska needed a fiscal solution immediately; inversely, Senator Dunleavy said on the Senate floor that we may need additional years to fully analyze the situation. Alaska was out of time. You then followed this with remarks that caught my attention, in your State of the State address: “I didn’t run for Governor to keep the job, I ran for Governor to do the job,” As Governor, you did the job, and your campaign suspension further proves those words, ultimately.

With just weeks left in your campaign, you showed the state and country what valuing women looks like. And then you pulled Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson up as the first Alaska Native female Lt. Governor, sharing her with all of Alaska.

The storied Lincoln Cabinet – A Team of Rivals – we had that here in our state. And while some of your political positions may not have completely aligned with many of my peers, you trusted your Lt. Governor, and in turn, we trusted you to make decisions for all of Alaska. It’s rare to know leaders you don’t only agree with, but believe in.

You showed us what the path ahead may very well look like for us. While you lost political capital ensuring no other Governor would have to deal with a problem you fixed, you prepared us to understand the weight of decisions we may someday come to face, and highlighted the inner work we as young people in public service need to do to prepare for those decisions so that one day, we may act as you have. There is a direct line between your action on Friday, October 19th, and many decades into the future, because your actions will carry on in us.

It has been said that Alaska did not deserve you. You did what nobody else would do, at great political cost; we will work to build an Alaska deserving of Bill Walker. You are inspiring an entire generation of Alaskans to meet your sacrifice with a love for our state in equal measure, over the course of our careers and lives. We will not leave you hanging.

Governor Walker, the next to hold your seat will be common. But under a Walker-educated generation, we aspire to be a different kind of leader, like how you are a different kind of leader, where the purity and integrity of our actions remain important above all.

You’ve shared that in your final days as Governor, you are going to work to make every day count for what’s best for Alaska. I think of the apology you made on behalf of the State of Alaska for past wrongdoings against Alaska Native people, and I think of the two Elders who stood up behind me, so moved were they, and who remained standing for the duration of your remarks, literally rising to meet your words. Even in your final weeks, you are teaching us to conclude with grace. You may have suspended your campaign, but you are finishing the race.

You were and are our teacher. You gave us an example of what magnanimous, moral leadership looks like, and to love our state so strongly that you would take yourself out of the equation.

As young people, we watch our leaders, observe, and learn from them. You taught us well with your actions and not just your words, and for that, you will always be our Elder.

Governor Walker, you did not let us down; it was Dr. Walter Soboleff who once said, “Lift up the face of your people.” By your actions, and through covenant to meet them, Alaska’s future is bright: Our face is lifted up.

Governor Walker AFN