Alaska Legislature to meet on confirmations next week

April 5, 2018

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A former Planned Parenthood field organizer picked by Gov. Bill Walker to serve on a board that regulates midwifery in Alaska said Thursday she’s not coming into the role with any agenda.

Kenni Linden, of Palmer, said her own midwife encouraged her to apply for the public seat on the Board of Certified Direct-Entry Midwives. She said she’s passionate about access to midwifery care in Alaska, based on her family’s personal experience.

The anti-abortion group Alaska Right to Life sent out emails opposing Linden’s appointment, referring to her as a “former Planned Parenthood political operative.”

Linden, a former regional field organizer for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, said most of her experience with the group involved advocating for women’s health and issues such as Medicaid expansion, access to birth control and dating violence prevention. She left the organization in 2016, she said.

Linden is among the Walker nominees to boards and commissions that lawmakers will consider during a joint session, scheduled for Tuesday. Several of Walker’s Cabinet members also face confirmation.

Walker nominated Sheldon Fisher as revenue commissioner; Leslie Ridle as administration commissioner, and Mike Navarre as commerce commissioner.

He also chose health commissioner Valerie Davidson to become lieutenant governor, should that post become vacant. State law calls for a governor to make such an appointment.

Craig Fleener, who works in the administration’s Washington, D.C., office, held that role, but Walker spokesman Austin Baird said Walker opted for the commissioner of a major department to hold it instead.

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