First full day on the job for Alaska’s new representative

Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 4:10 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Alaska officially has representation in the U.S. House of Representatives after Rep. Mary Peltola’s (D-Alaska) swearing-in Tuesday. Wednesday marked Peltola’s first full day in office.

She acknowledges the history of the office she now sits in. It once belonged to the Dean of the House, Don Young (R-Alaska). Young roamed Capitol Hill for 50 years. She recognizes the roots Young laid down, but now it is her time.

“My priority these three weeks is to focus on the work,” said Peltola.

She is the first female to represent Alaska in the House and the first Alaska Native to ever serve in Congress. Peltola is being thrown into the Congressional fire. She is voting, she has new staff and she now serves on the House Natural Resources Committee.

“(I am) making sure we can get as many wins for Alaska in as we possibly can,” said Peltola.

Peltola has another election against the same opponents, Republicans Sarah Palin and Nick Begich, in just eight weeks. In those two months she has just 10 actual workdays to make her mark.

“t’s really important that I’m able to prove that I have a very serious work ethic and that I can work with people from both sides of the aisle,” said Peltola.

She says her initial legislative priorities include protecting fisheries and food security, while also considering the numerous bills Don Young introduced before his passing. Peltola also has an eye on Alaska’s energy industry.

“Long term we do need to make sure we’re investing in renewable energy. But certainly, everyone can agree in the short term and the medium term, we are going to be dependent on oil and gas,” said Peltola.

She will be part of the Democratic caucus serving a conservative state that Donald Trump won by double digits in consecutive elections.

“I think Alaskans are very pragmatic people and I think both Democrats and Republicans understand that most of our issues are not partisan issues. It is an advantage to Alaska at this point to have a bipartisan delegation,” said Peltola.

Her initial term officially ends on January 3, the day the next Congress is sworn in.