JUNEAU (AP) -- Gov. Tony Knowles named 14 Alaska Native, ethnic, and religious leaders to a new Governor's Commission on Tolerance on Tuesday.
Knowles said the commission was recommended by his cabinet-level task force that explored racism in the state following a paintball attack in January that targeted Alaska Natives in downtown Anchorage.
''This assault was only the latest in a series of incidents of racial intolerance eating away at Alaska's social fabric, and it's appropriate that the state respond,'' Knowles said.
The Rev. Chuck Eddy of Anchorage, who recently retired as rector of St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Anchorage, will chair the commission.
Knowles named three legislators to the panel: Sen. Georgianna Lincoln, D-Rampart, Sen. Bettye Davis, D-Anchorage, and Rep. Mary Kapsner, D-Bethel.
Other members are Father Michael Oleksa of Koliganek, an ordained Orthodox priest; Fairbanks Mayor Jim Hayes, the first African-American to be elected mayor in Alaska; former state Rep. Thelma Buchholdt of Anchorage, the first Filipino American woman elected to the State House; and Denise Morris of Anchorage, chief executive officer for the Alaska Native Justice Center.
Also named to the panel were Marie Greene of Kotzebue, chief operating officer of NANA Regional Corp.; retired Superior Court Judge Tom Stewart of Juneau; Kelly Brown, business agent for the Alaska State Employees Association in Fairbanks; Shari Kochman, Knowles' deputy legislative director; Mara Kimmel of Anchorage, staff attorney for the immigration and refugee services program of Catholic Social Services; and broadcast journalist Gilbert Sanchez of Anchorage.
Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer will serve as an ex-officio member of the commission.
The commission plans hearings in about a dozen communities and will prepare recommendations for countering racism by Nov. 30.
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