Gov. Walker hosted open house with Rep. Colver
Homecoming with a warm welcome at the Valdez Civic Center Sunday
Valdez Star photo
Gov. Bill Walker (right) had a Valdez homecoming Sunday when he hosted an open house with Rep. Jim Colver (center) at the Valdez Civic Center. Superintendent Jim Nygaard, (left) was one of many attendees.
Gov. Bill Walker hosted what he called a homecoming Sunday at the Valdez Civic Center.
As he is often fond of saying, his house is in Anchorage – but his home is in Valdez. And for the last eight months, in Juneau.
Walker, along with first lady Donna, greeted all visitors to the open house, where he casually greeted old friends and curious visitors from out of state with equal grace.
It was his first visit to Valdez since his first inaugural ball last January – and he claimed it was the longest time period he had ever spent outside Valdez without making a visit.
Rep. Jim Colver, who represents Valdez in District 9, gave a short speech regarding the challenges faced during his first eight months in office – especially the current fiscal crisis facing the state after oil prices – and production – plummeted.
While Colver has remained popular in Valdez since his election to office last fall, Walker clearly still holds the hearts and minds of the people of Valdez.
After a short speech on the numerous challenges facing his administration and a long list of goals he hopes to achieve as governor, Walker asked attendees what was on their minds.
Council member Jim Shirrell, who is also former board president of the Valdez Senior Center, thanked Walker for bringing Medicaid expansion to Alaska.
Walker told the crowd it was "the right thing to do" and said he believes he may be sued for the controversial move he made independently from the Alaska Legislature.
Valdez Star photo
Gov. Bill Walker and first lady Donna walking in the Gold Rush Days parade in Valdez last Sunday.
On July 16, Walker sent a letter to the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, giving members the statute-required 45-day notice of his intention to accept additional federal and Mental Health Trust Fund Authority money for the expansion.
Statewide, the expansion will reduce state spending by $6.6 million in the first year, and save over $100 million in state general funds in the first six years.
He also talked about hosting President Barrack Obama's upcoming visit to Alaska later this month.
Like his role model Gov. Bill Egan, Alaska's first governor after statehood in 1959, Walker marched in the Gold Rush parade Sunday, arm in arm with the first lady – and earned second place in the non-business category of entries.