Alaska Gov. Walker Taps Binder as Acting Transportation Chief; Kemp Resigns

AASHTO Journal, 16 January 2015

Gov. Bill Walker has installed John Binder as acting commissioner of the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, elevating that deputy commissioner while the governor reportedly plans to name a permanent agency chief within a month.

JohnBinder.jpg     Acting Commissioner John Binder

Binder, who replaces former Commissioner Patrick Kemp, has been a deputy ADOT&PF commissioner since January 2014, overseeing the state’s international and rural airports. He joined the agency in June 2013 as operations manager for the Division of Statewide Aviation.

As earlier reported in the AASHTO Journal, Alaska is facing a sizable budget gap as oil-related revenues shrink; Walker on Dec. 27 ordered a halt to discretionary spending for six major infrastructure projects overseen by several agencies, and directed those agencies to soon report on any costs associated with ending the construction.

Kemp, who was appointed agency commissioner in 2012 by former Gov. Sean Parnell, told the Juneau Empire newspaper Jan. 12 that he informed Parnell in November he planned to leave and had cleared his office, but was asked by Walker to stay on as acting director in 30-day increments. “They called today and said, ‘It’s time,'” Kemp told the Empire.

The governor’s spokeswoman said in a reported email message that “Governor Walker wants all commissioners, deputy commissioners and directors to be aligned with his decisions and policies,” and that Kemp disagreed over the project cuts.

One news report said the governor also asked ADOT&PF Deputy Commissioner Reuben Yost and Southcoast Regional Director Al Clough to step down.

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