Bill Walker declared winner of governor's race
In a campaign of many firsts, Walker is second from Valdez
Valdez Star file photo
Following in the footsteps of Valdez great William Egan, Alaska's first governor after statehood, Bill Walker has been elected governor of Alaska.
Bill Walker will be Alaska's next governor.
Walker, along with running mate Bryron Mallott, will be sworn into office Dec. 1.
After weeks of election uncertainty, Gov. Sean Parnell conceded the race Saturday.
It is the first time Alaska has elected a governor and lieutenant governor that ran as independents. It is also the first time in the state's history that a candidate that won a nomination during primary elections to run as governor dropped the bid to run as a lieutenant governor – and won.
While the campaign had many firsts, Walker is the second governor to come from Valdez. Valdez was also the hometown of Alaska's first governor after statehood, William Egan.
"I am proud to be the second Governor Bill from Valdez," Walker said in an email to the Valdez Star. "I knew Gov. Bill Egan personally. I will never forget working as a young boy as a volunteer fireman on a fire hose with him. Having the opportunity to follow in his footsteps and serve Alaska as governor is an honor and a privilege, one I do not take lightly. The challenges facing our state today are immense but I believe the opportunities exceed the challenges."
Walker and his wife Donna are attorneys for WalkerRichards in Anchorage, but both have Valdez roots and still have family and business interests here.
"Yesterday, we just realized it's for real," Walker's sister-in-law Debbie McCann said, after weeks of vote counting by the state's Div. of Elections.
Walker is married to McCann's sister Donna, who is an attorney – in fact, the two met in Valdez and later left to attend law school together.
"They are a very powerful team," McCann said. "Alaska should be very proud of its first family."
The Walker campaign relied heavily on Valdez volunteers.
"I want to thank Valdez voters for their overwhelming support at the polls and for the vote of confidence throughout the campaign as shown by the many donations, the proud displays of campaign signs and the dedicated volunteer efforts," he said Tuesday morning
Valdez Star file photo
Alaska Governor-elect Bill Walker, a former Valdez mayor, addressing the Valdez City Council during his years at city attorney.
During the final weeks of the often contentious campaign, Walker supporters, including McCann, could often be seen in all manner of Valdez weather, carrying signs to rally support for the Walker/Mallott ticket.
"I'm totally excited," McCann said. "Knowing that his motivation is 100 percent pure."
The Walker/Mallott campaign, which joined forces and called itself the Unity Ticket, was widely seen by voters as a step away from the highly partisan politics that gained momentum under the leadership of Republican Gov. Sean Parnell.
While Walker and Mallott began putting together a transition team well before Parnell conceded the race, supporters in Valdez are wondering if there will be an inaugural ball in Valdez.
"I would go 100 percent that it's going to happen," McCann said, "Stay tuned."