- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The chairman of the state Board of Fisheries, Karl Johnstone, is resigning after Gov. Bill Walker said he would not reappoint him for another term, a spokeswoman for the governor said Tuesday.

House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, on Friday blasted the board’s treatment of Roland Maw, a finalist for state fish and game commissioner, and questioned its nominating process. The boards of fisheries and game met two days earlier to send a list of commissioner candidates to Walker. While the Board of Game voted to give Maw an interview, the Board of Fisheries declined and his application died.

Walker said Friday that he shared Chenault’s disappointment that Maw did not get an interview. The governor expressed concerns with how the process played out in a call to Johnstone on Tuesday, Walker spokeswoman Grace Jang said. The governor also said he wanted new ideas, she said.

Johnstone resigned when Walker told him he wouldn’t reappoint him for another term, Jang said. Johnstone’s term was to end June 30.

Walker plans to appoint Maw, who is executive director of the United Cook Inlet Drift Association, to the seat held by Johnstone, Jang said.

The boards of fisheries and game sent the name of one finalist to Walker for consideration as fish and game commissioner: that of Acting Commissioner Sam Cotten.

By law, the governor is to appoint a commissioner from a list of nominees advanced by the boards of fisheries and game. However, the governor has the right to request additional nominations.

He did not. The administration announced Tuesday that Walker had named Cotten commissioner. Jang said Walker is happy with that choice.

Johnstone said he was OK with the governor’s decision. He said he had a good run and understands that Walker wants his own people on the board.

When asked why the board did not agree to interview Maw, he said members didn’t believe he was qualified to serve as commissioner. But he said he’d rather not get into the details and rake Maw “across the coals.”

“He’s a perfectly decent person. I think everybody on the board knows why they voted that way. He knows why we voted that way,” he said, adding that the Board of Game didn’t have the same interaction with Maw that the fisheries board has had over the years.

Johnstone’s resignation was first reported by the Peninsula Clarion.

Chenault said in a statement that he hoped Johnstone’s resignation “will be a step toward better relations and outreach to the public.”

Walker also appointed Chris Hladick as state commerce commissioner and Ronald Taylor as corrections commissioner.

Hladick previously worked as city manager of Unalaska. Taylor, a longtime state employee, had been acting corrections commissioner.

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