Murkowski names five cabinet members

Posted: Tuesday, December 10, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- Gov. Frank Murkowski appointed five people to head key cabinet posts and expects to name others in the coming weeks, he said Monday.

The newly-sworn in governor also hinted at major changes in store for the state labor department, which he said has become a highly politicized agency.

Murkowski appointed commissioners to the departments of Environmental Conservation, Revenue, Health and Social Services, Labor and Workforce Development and Corrections.

''Together with the earlier appointment of Gregg Renkes at the department of law, we now have nearly half of the cabinet in place,'' Murkowski said.

Ernesta Ballard, a former regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency under President Reagan, was named to be commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Ballard lives in Ketchikan and served as a regional administrator for EPA Region 10, which encompasses Alaska, from 1983-1986 and is former chief executive officer for the Cape Fox Corp., a village Native corporation.

She is an environmental consultant and operates Ballard & Associates in Ketchikan and serves on the board of the Alaska Forest Association.

''She's going to bring, I think, a new period of cooperation between the state and the Environmental Protection Agency and work to responsibly try and remove some of the roadblocks that have existed between these agencies,'' Murkowski said of Ballard. She did not attend Monday's event.

Bill Corbus, retired president of Alaska Electric Light and Power, was named to head the state Department of Revenue.

The department oversees tax and royalty collection, child support and other payments and also manages the distribution of Permanent Fund dividends.

Joel Gilbertson, a Woodbridge, Va., resident who previously served as an adviser to Murkowski when he was in the U.S. Senate, was named to be commissioner of the state Department of Health and Social Services.

Gilbertson was a legislative director to Murkowski before the Senate Committee on Finance. He has also previously worked for the National Association of Social Workers, Center for Health Policy Research and Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, LLP.

Marc Antrim was named commissioner of the state Department of Corrections. Antrim has been a 19-year employee of the department who previously served as a lieutenant supervising administrative sergeants at Lemon Creek Correctional Center.

Antrim and others in the department will work ''as a team to bring about the management changes that are necessary,'' Murkowski said.

Murkowski also chose Don Stolworthy as deputy commissioner, Portia Parker as a special assistant for policy development and analysis, and Mike Addington as director of institutions.

Stolworthy has worked as a parole officer and supervisor and is a former special assistant and director for the division of charitable gaming under former Gov. Walter J. Hickel.

Former union lobbyist Greg O'Claray was named to head the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. O'Claray was the former director of legislative and governmental affairs for the District 1 Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, an AFL-CIO affiliate representing marine engineers on Alaska ferries and other commercial vessels.

Ed Fisher, a Ketchikan consultant with Ballard & Associates and former director of Wrangell Seafoods, Inc., was named deputy director for the labor department.

Both labor and corrections departments are undergoing an audit as part of an executive order signed by Murkowski soon after taking office, said chief of staff Jim Clark.

Murkowski said he asked O'Claray to go and ''clean out what has become a moribund, highly politicized agency,'' but would not shed much light on what that means.

''He has the support of basically organized labor and he's made the commitment to me that he is going to turn the department around,'' Murkowski said.

In a lighthearted gesture following the announcement, Murkowski gave each of the appointees a rose from a vase kept on a nearby desk in the governor's office. It was a form of congratulations and was given ''in lieu of a raise,'' he joked.

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