Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, is leaving the Republican caucus to join the Alaska House Majority Coalition, a decision she says is necessary to defend the interests of her legislative district.
Stutes said Tuesday, Dec. 8, in an interview with The Cordova Times, that it was a really tough choice, a very difficult decision for her as a Republican, “but you know me, you know that during my time in Juneau I’ve never lost sight of where I come from,” she said. “Although a proud Republican for 50 years, I am first and foremost a representative of my district.”
“It is critical now, more than ever, that we stand our ground to protect and restore our coastal communities,” Stutes said.
Protection of the Alaska Marine Highway System, which is critical to the socio-economic well-being of coastal communities, is an issue of particular concern to Stutes.
“Kodiak, Cordova, Yakutat, Seldovia and all District 32 communities in between are reliant on a healthy Alaska Marine Highway, robust fisheries management, quality K-12 schools, public safety, community revenue sharing and investment in infrastructure,” she said. “It is no secret that services rural Alaskans depend on have been disproportionately targeted for cuts. As a result, I have prioritized working with legislators who support those services and my district, regardless of party affiliation.”
The Kodiak Republican said that after giving the matter careful thought, she is making public her decision to caucus with her colleagues in the current House Majority Coalition. She announced her plans earlier in the day on Dec. 8, in a meeting of the Republican caucus.
“I told them we all have to work together, that I respect their opinions, but we are not of like minds,” she said. “I have a lot of respect for the Republicans and their ideals, but they don’t reflect the needs of my communities.”