On Wednesday September 20th, 2006, KTUU reported that Independent gubernatorial candidate Andrew Halcro announced his selection of former Anchorage Assembly Member Fay Von Gemmingen (pictured at left, courtesy of the Salestax.org website) as his new running mate on the independent ticket. To clarify, Halcro is running as an independent, NOT as a member of the Alaska Independence Party. A preliminary report has also been posted on the Anchorage Daily News website.
Von Gemmingen served three terms on the Anchorage Assembly as a Republican before she "term-limited out" in 2004 (Anchorage Assembly Members and School Board Members cannot serve more than three consecutive terms). She now works as a certified public accountant and lives in Palmer. Pamela Jennings was elected in 2004 to replace her on the Assembly.
Halcro's original running mate, former Soldotna mayor and state Rep. Ken Lancaster, dropped out of the race six days ago, citing health issues.
Halcro said he did not choose Von Gemmingen because of her gender or as a counterbalance to Republican gubernatorial candidate Sarah Palin. “There are a tremendous amount of critical social problems that women are facing in this state: high rates of domestic violence, high rates of sexual assault. And I want a teammate that can actually get in and really help out on some of these issues. When I look back over the last 10 to 15 years, these are areas where the state has really failed to make progress,” Halcro said. Halcro has yet to discuss this selection on his campaign website.
Von Gemmingen could not be reached for comment tonight. The ticket is planning an official announcement tomorrow afternoon (September 20th) in Anchorage. If interested, check back on KTUU's website after 6 P.M. tomorrow night for an updated news story. Also check the Anchorage Daily News website tomorrow morning for a possible story on this development. Perhaps Von Gemmingen will explain her letter to the editor of the Anchorage Daily News, entitled "As Lieutenant Governor, Sean Parnell Would Continue To Get Things Done", published on August 18th, 2006 just before the primary election, and tell the public why she now believes she would be more suitable than Parnell.
An archived article from the Anchorage Press, originally published the week of March 8, 2001, provides us with more of a biographical sketch (I've updated it somewhat for currency). Von Gemmingen, the owner of her own certified public accounting firm, is a lifelong Alaska resident, formerly living in Anchorage and now living in Palmer. She's a graduate of Anchorage's West High School and the University of Alaska. Married to her husband, Pat, for 34 years, she has two children and one grandchild (as of the article's publish date). She’s been active with the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, Alaska Society of CPAs, Soroptimist International of Cook Inlet, Anchorage Estate Planning Council, American Society of Women Accountants, Anchorage Athena Society, Alaska Women’s Political Caucus (this is an absolutely pro-choice group, believing that abortion should be legally available in ALL cases), Republican Women’s Club, Pioneers of Alaska and Rainbow Girls (although it is unknown whether her move to Palmer has affected her participation in all these Anchorage-based groups). After being elected to Seat "D" of the Anchorage Assembly in 1995, 1998, and again in 2001, she was elected Assembly Chair twice. Von Gemmingen was co-founder of Alaskans United Against the Cap, chaired by former Fran Ulmer running mate (2002) Ernie Hall. When running for re-election to the Assembly in 2001, she pledged to "continue to support safe neighborhoods, good roads, a quality education system, state-of-the-art utilities, recreational opportunities, planning and a government that works with the private sector to promote economic development". In the absence of a state platform, that statement, along with the identities of the groups with which she's worked, will convey some perspective about her politics.
Von Gemmingen is considered to be gay-friendly. A story on the Actwin.com website reminds us that on March 25th, 2002, she was one of nine Assembly Members voting to reject then-Mayor George Wuerch's new policy on exhibits at Z.J. Loussac Library and replace it with one that contained fewer restrictions on display content. The city's library exhibit policy became a hot-button issue at the time when Mayor Wuerch objected to a gay pride exhibit at Loussac and city officials removed it. The display was a disgusting interactive module requiring library patrons using the elevator to simulate "going into and out of the closet", among other features. Wuerch then temporarily banned exhibits by nonlibrary groups until a new policy could be drafted. The ban lasted until Wuerch put in place his new policy in February 2002. His policy restricted the placement of all exhibits (not just pro-gay exhibits) to the ground floor lobby. However, critics complained that is beneath the main floors and not visited by most library users. Mayor Wuerch's policy also prohibited certain types of exhibits altogether, including ones that "advocate or editorialize personal, commercial or political subjects except the importance of voting." Only exhibits related to library resources were allowed. The operator of the Actwin.com website was so impressed by Von Gemmingen's vote that he awarded her a letter grade of "A+", which he defines as "extremely pro-gay" (which I'm sure is an exaggeration).
In July 2003, Von Gemmingen supported the PFD community dividend proposal, complaining about state budget cuts to cities. Here's a short excerpt from a 2003 article on Alaskalegislature.com:
Fay Von Gemmingen, an Anchorage Assembly member and president of the Alaska Municipal League, said budget cuts to municipalities this year by Gov. Frank Murkowski have left many cities searching for other revenue alternatives.
"The cities are in bad shape, and we need the moneys that we get from the state from the revenue sharing/safe cities fund," she said. "That helps us pay for our police and our fire, our health and our roads, all these things that are direct services to the people in our cities. We also needed the capital matching grant money that was deleted in the governor's budget. That's something that we've always used for significant projects to keep our public buildings going as well as road projects."
Altogether, the cuts totaled $37 million in savings to the state, but left municipalities to fill the shortfall.
In June, Murkowski announced the state will distribute $14.7 million in federal money to communities to help mitigate the impacts of the cuts. But there is no guarantee that the money will be available in future years.
Like Von Gemmingen, Juneau Mayor Sally Smith, who serves as District 2 Director for the Alaska Municipal League, said she thinks the community dividend is a good concept. But Smith said she isn't sure how much of the personal dividend would need to be used to cover municipal shortfalls.
Combine this with Andrew Halcro's radical ideas for children's PFD checks, and you can see you may not recognize the PFD after this tag team gets done with it.
Much more about Von Gemmingen will emerge as the campaign continues. However, based on the issues I've cited here, plus my memory of her Assembly record, implies that she is a moderate Republican who is socially tolerant, if not borderline liberal. She's also not necessarily a fiscal conservative, either.
Tags: politics , Alaska , brrreeeport , election , lieutenant governor