- Associated Press - Thursday, April 14, 2016

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - State Public Safety Commissioner Gary Folger is retiring next month and will be replaced by a man who formerly held that post, Walt Monegan.

In an email to department staff Wednesday evening, Folger said he has been dealing for years with a type of cancer known as multiple myeloma but currently is in a “good place.”

“I feel blessed living on borrowed time and now I feel it’s time I owe my time to my family,” he wrote. His retirement will be effective the end of May, he said.

Folger rose through the ranks in the department and retired as a colonel before being appointed Public Safety commissioner in 2014 by then-Gov. Sean Parnell. He was retained by Gov. Bill Walker, who in a release Thursday said Folger has been an invaluable member of his Cabinet.

Walker announced that Monegan will replace Folger. Given the timing of Folger’s departure, Walker spokeswoman Katie Marquette said Monegan will not be up for confirmation during the current regular session, which is scheduled to end Sunday. Lawmakers are scheduled to consider the confirmation of Walker appointees on Friday.

Monegan is a former Anchorage police chief and served as a Public Safety commissioner under Gov. Sarah Palin until his ouster. Critics said Palin fired him after he refused to dismiss a state trooper who had been involved in a contentious divorce with Palin’s sister. Palin said Monegan was let go because of a disagreement over budget priorities.

Walker appointed Monegan as interim commissioner of the Department of Corrections last November following the release of an administrative review of the department and Walker’s acceptance of then-Commissioner Ron Taylor’s resignation. Monegan sought the permanent appointment to the post but that ultimately went to Dean Williams, who helped conduct the review. At the time that Walker announced Williams’ appointment, Walker said, “”I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Walt Monegan in our administration.”

Williams has faced criticism from a correctional officers’ union over the review. He was expected to face legislative confirmation Friday.

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