Business as usual for outgoing reps

Out with the old

Posted: Sunday, November 12, 2000

It's going to be business as usual for Reps. Hal Smalley, D-Kenai, Gary Davis, R-Soldotna, and Gail Phillips, R-Homer, as they wait out the last days of their legislative terms.

Smalley suffered defeat at the hands of Republican challenger Mike Chenault on Tuesday night, after only one term as the representative for Nikiski and Kenai.

Davis chose not to run for re-election after eight years as the representative for the Soldotna-Seward area.

Phillips, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1991, also chose not to run for re-election.

Smalley said he will keep his schedule of going into his Kenai legislative office Monday and Wednesday mornings between now and January when Chenault takes the oath of office.

"I'm still on the clock until January," Smalley said. "With (my aide) gone, I may go in five days a week."

Smalley said he will continue to respond to constituent concerns, addressing problems with the Alaska Permanent Fund and state agencies people may be having trouble with.

Then, he said, he'll take some time off.

He said he and his wife, Susan, will make a visit to their children, who live in Portland, Ore., after Thanksgiving.

"Then after Christmas, we'll probably get on a plane and fly somewhere," he said. "Wherever the ticket takes us, wherever the bus stops."

With his two years in Juneau and 10 years on the Kenai City Council, Smalley has been an elected public servant for a dozen years. But, for the near future at least, he said he is finished with public service.

"My wife has plans for me, and I'll leave it at that," he said. "Right now, I'm not interested in running for anything."

Though he would not rule out running for office in the future.

"Susie told me not to even think about running in two years, but I am thinking about it," he said. "I'm putting my signs away nice and neat in case someone with my name wants to run someday."

Smalley hinted that if reapportionment gives the peninsula a Senate district that isn't shared with Anchorage, he could buy stickers that say "State Senate" to paste over the words "State House" on his signs.

He said he always enjoys visiting with seniors and will continue to frequent senior centers.

"There is always someone there that needs something done," he said. "Something moved, or a sidewalk shoveled."

Davis' plans for the next two months will not be much different than the six months since the last session ended.

"I'll be doing what I've been doing in the interim," he said. "It's a pretty standard procedure."

He said he still reads and responds to constituent mail and calls, and he is still active on the legislative Budget and Audit Committee, which meets about once a month in the off-season. He said the number of hours a week he spends on his legislative duties varies, but he squeezes them in on evenings and weekends and sometimes at lunch.

Davis accepted the position of Kenai Peninsula Borough roads director in August, which he said takes up a lot of his time, especially this time of year when rain falls on ice.

"The job is going fine," he said. "It's still a learning curve. Different seasons create different problems."

Davis said he still wants to be involved with the community, but a run for the open mayoral position in Soldotna, which he once held, is out of the question, since he no longer lives in the city limits.

"There's the VFW, the chamber of commerce, the literacy program, I'm not sure what else, but I still want to be involved," he said.

Was sitting back and watching a campaign for the first time in a decade a problem for Davis? No way.

"It was relieving not having to campaign," he said. "That was one key area that I did not care for."

He said he won't get lonesome for Juneau come January, either.

"There's so much to do," he said. "I'm looking forward to cleaning up and building around the house."

Phillips also is maintaining a full schedule.

"(The Legislative Budget and Audit Committee) is looking at the feasibility of reinstituting regional boarding schools," said Phillips, who met with officials from Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka last week. "Mt. Edgecumbe's is so successful that we wanted to talk with them and get information from them on how they've maintained their success.

"I'll be real busy on this project. We want to have a report to the Legislature by the time it convenes."

Also last week she addressed newly elected municipal and borough officials at the annual Alaska Municipal League meeting in Juneau.

"The first two days are a training session," she said. "I spoke to them on how to effectively lobby legislators when they're working on projects for their areas."

She returned to Homer in time for a Saturday "thank you" party in her honor, organized by Drew Scalzi, recently chosen by District 7 voters to take Phillips' place.

At a meeting of the Resource Development Council of Alaska, which begins in Anchorage on Thursday, Phillips will introduce two keynote speakers, both of them Canadian premiers of provinces Phillips visited earlier.

As Phillips brings her 10-year legislative career to a close, her staff is preparing to move out from under her wing and transitioning to Scalzi's leadership.

"I think this is so good for my district," Phillips said. "Many people already know my staff, and they know if they need help they can call them."

Although Phillips is rumored to have her political eye on Alaska's governorship, she says she won't be making any statement about her plans for the future until her legislative commitments are complete Dec. 31. Until then, it's business as usual, with a family wedding in Anchorage and Christmas in Homer.

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