A veteran election official resigned abruptly on Friday at Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott’s request. The Walker-Mallott administration was Gail Fenumiai’s third as head of the state Division of Elections. Claire Richardson is special assistant to Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott. She says they accepted Fenumiai’s resignation on Friday. “There’s nothing personal in the request. The lieutenant governor would like to move in some new directions with the Division of Elections and it was felt that it was time for different leadership.” Fenumiai has been director of elections since 2008, and has 10 years of earlier experience in the division. She didn’t return calls for comment.
She’s being replaced by Nome City Manager Josephine Bahnke, who’ll start in October. In the meantime, election supervisor Lauri Wilson is acting director.
Richardson says Mallott hasn’t worked closely with Fenumiai since he and Gov. Bill Walker took office, but they’ve had meetings about the Tyokuk v. Treadwell case, which is in settlement negotiations. A federal judge ruled last year the state doesn’t do enough to serve voters who speak Native languages.