FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer made it official Saturday -- She's running for governor.
Ulmer announced her candidacy in 2002 while attending a student government conference at a Fairbanks area high school.
Ulmer, a Democrat, spoke to about 400 high school student body and student council officers attending the annual conference of the Alaska Association of Student Governments at Ben Eielson High School on Eielson Air Force Base.
Ulmer said she wants to build on the successes of Gov. Tony Knowles' administration.
''My platform is simple: I will work with communities and businesses -- bring Alaskans together -- to strengthen our economy, improve our schools and protect our security and quality of life.''
Ulmer is the first Democrat to announce for the job. She's seen as the leading Democratic candidate and her announcement had been much anticipated.
She listed a number of successes under the Knowles-Ulmer administration such as 15,000 new jobs created, a drop in welfare rolls, a 25 percent drop in violent crime and the creation of the Denali Kid Care initiative that provided health insurance to 19,500 children.
Ulmer listed a litany of problems facing Alaska communities, such as the impact of farm fishing on coastal fishing economies. Tourism and air cargo industries are expected to see increased costs due to new security concerns.
Too many small communities lack basic water, sewer, energy and health care facilities, Ulmer said.
Republicans have been looking to U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski to announce his gubernatorial plans, seeing him as the strongest candidate from their party.
Murkowski has said he plans to work to pass legislation to allow oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge before making his plans known.
But former state House Speaker Gail Phillips, a Homer Republican, said she would run for governor if Murkowski does not. State Sen. Robin Taylor, R-Wrangell, also has expressed interest in running along with a number of other Republicans.
Ulmer was first elected lieutenant governor in 1994 in a tight race that the Knowles-Ulmer ticket won by 536 votes.
The Knowles-Ulmer ticket won easily in 1998.
Ulmer is a Juneau resident and former mayor who served four terms in the state House. Ulmer also served six years as a policy adviser to Gov. Jay Hammond, a Republican.
Peninsula Clarion ©2015. All Rights Reserved.