Mallott out, Davidson sworn in as lieutenant governor

Lt. Gov. Valerie Nurr'araaluk Davidson, left, director of Rural and Native Affairs Barbara Blake, center, and Gov. Bill Walker, right, at Davidson’s swearing in ceremony. Photo courtesy of the office of Gov. Bill Walker

Byron Mallott has resigned as lieutenant governor, citing “recently made inappropriate comments.”

Mallott did not elaborate, saying only that his was “a resignation compelled by inappropriate comments I made that placed a person whom I respect and revere in a position of vulnerability. I take full responsibility for this action and apologize to, and seek healing for, the person I hurt,” he said.

Mallott and Gov. Bill Walker released a joint statement on the afternoon of Oct. 16, without elaborating on details. Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, was sworn as lieutenant governor, in a private ceremony.

The Alaska Federation of Natives announced earlier that Davidson, a member of the Orutsararmiut Native Council, would be the keynote speaker on Oct. 18 at its annual convention in Anchorage.

Walker also announced that Dr. Jay Butler, chief medical officer in the Alaska Division of Public Health, was named to fill Davidson’s post at Health and Social Services.

The abrupt announcement comes just three weeks before the Nov. 6 general election in which Walker, running as an independent, faces Democratic challenger Mark Begich and Republican Mike Dunleavy in the gubernatorial race.

Walker said that Mallott had “recently made inappropriate comments that do not reflect the sterling level of behavior required in his role as lieutenant governor. I learned of the incident last night. Byron has taken full responsibility for his actions and has resigned.”

“As leaders, we must hold ourselves to the highest standards of conduct,” the governor said.