Peltola makes history, fills Alaska representation void with swearing in

Rep. Don Young died March 18
Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 4:03 PM AKDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - For roughly half a year, Alaska has gone without representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. That hole was filled Tuesday with the swearing in of Alaska’s new representative, Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Alaska).

Peltola made history Tuesday as the first woman to serve Alaska in the House of Representatives. She is also the first Alaska Native to serve in Congress. She will serve out the rest of the late Don Young’s term which ends in January.

“It’s exciting. It’s nerve wracking. I know there will be a lot of eyes on this day,” said Peltola.

After spending the day at the White House for a legislative celebration, she became the state’s fifth representative after Don Young’s almost 50 years of service. Young’s loss still looms large for Peltola.

“I take very seriously the work that Don has done working for all Alaskans,” said Peltola.

Peltola is building out her new staff as she moves into her new office, the same one Young occupied for years. Assuming her new post with unconventional timing, she hit the ground running, with three votes on her first day.

“I think that they’re called ‘bed check votes’ to make sure that representatives are back and kind of clocked in,” said Peltola.

It will be a short window for Peltola to make her mark after campaigning on responsible resource development, protecting Alaska’s fishing industry, and reproductive rights. The pro-choice Democrat could have a chance to weigh in on the latter as legislation is being considered on both sides of the issue.

She has just 11 actual work days in Congress before another election takes place, this one to determine who will serve a full term in Congress beginning in 2023.

“Hopefully these three weeks will be productive and I can show Alaskans my work ethic and ability to be effective,” said Peltola.

As of now Peltola is set to face off against the same candidates she defeated in August, Sarah Palin and Nick Begich, both Republicans. Election Day is just eight weeks away on November 8.