Former Fairbanks Borough Mayor to serve on pipeline board

The Legislature Friday narrowly approved former Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins to serve on the board responsible for developing the Alaska gas pipeline.

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Luke Hopkins was identified with a hastily written name card, after being appointed to the AGDC board the day before. Photo: Rachel Waldholz, APRN
Luke Hopkins at an AGDC bard meeting in 2015. Hopkins was recently confirmed to the Alaska Gasline Develpoment Corporation by both house of the Legislature. (File photo by Rachel Waldholz, APRN)

And it also confirmed Dean Williams as the commissioner of the Department of Corrections.

A joint session of both houses voted 31 to 27 to confirm Hopkins to the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation. Governor Bill Walker appointed Hopkins in November, after overhauling the board.

Fairbanks Democratic Representative David Guttenberg said Hopkins’ experience is what the AGDC board needs. Hopkins is Guttenberg’s brother-in-law.

“Luke’s got a long history of getting things done,” Guttenberg said. “Or trying to get things done, with the pipeline.”

Eagle River Republican Representative Dan Saddler opposed Hopkins. He questions whether the AGDC board is following the right direction. He referred to former AGDC President Dan Fauske’s ouster.

“The personnel changes in the staff and the board at AGDC give me cold comfort that the organization’s effort is to achieve the model which I believe is in the best interest of the state.”

The Legislature voted by a wider margin to confirm Williams, 49 to 9. His appointment has been controversial. The corrections officers union opposed Williams. Union officials say an administrative review co-written by Williams was unfair to the officers.

But North Pole Republican Senator John Coghill says Williams is the right man for making changes in the department.

“This is a job that is needed to be done for a lot of years, so I’m going to support him.”

Anchorage Democratic Senator Bill Wielechowski says Williams’ didn’t give the public an accurate view of officers’ work.

“This has severely, severely damaged the morale and the public’s impression of our correctional officers. And the problem is a number of things in that review were seriously, seriously taken out of context.”

The Legislature confirmed dozens of other appointments. The only person rejected was Hope resident Guy Trimmingham to the Board of Game. Opponents say his interest in sightseeing was inappropriate for a board that promotes maximizing wildlife for consumption.

Andrew Kitchenman is the state government and politics reporter for Alaska Public Media and KTOO in Juneau. Reach him at

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