Creating Alaska

Katherine Nordale

Name: Katherine Nordale

City: Juneau

District: Alaska-at-Large

Occupation: Teacher, Bank Clerk

Born: December 4, 1902 - Rearden, Washington

Death: June 14, 1994 - Juneau, Alaska

Alaska Resident: 1925-94

Convention Posts:

  • Member, Committee on Style and Drafting
  • Member, Committee on Executive Branch
  • Member, Advisory Committee on Committees

Education: Washington State University

Public Offices and Organizations:

  • US Collector of Customs - 1951-53
  • Juneau Postmaster - 1964-71

Quote from the Constitutional Convention:

"Mr. President, I think that Mr. Davis put his finger on the problem when he said it was a matter of do we want to elect a secretary of state or do we want to appoint him. I am not too sure just how strong my convictions are, but I would like to say this, that one of the problems that has faced most of the states, and I think one of the reasons why there has been a swing away from elected officials is that for one thing, as the years go by the ballots become cluttered with elected officials.

Of course, ours does not look as if it would be in much danger, except we do have our election of senators, representatives, and at least three members of Congress to elect plus initiatives and referendum and all that sort of thing, but the swing toward the appointment of officials has been to keep some sort of coordination in government. Any man elected by the people is pretty independent, and that is why you have a lack of coordination in government where you have a lot of elected officials.

Another thing is that the voters become apathetic as time goes on and pretty soon you have a small percentage of people electing your officials, whoever they may be. One reason I don't think we should be too fearful of the governor's making a bad appointment is that we are giving him the authority to make all the other appointments. The secretary of state is actually an administrative official, really. Normally he has a lot of administrative functions, just as our present Secretary of Alaska has. He does not have to necessarily have the qualities that would make him a good governor, although he should be in very close touch with the governor as he would be under our thinking here, so that in the event of an emergency the executive department would continue to run smoothly when the governor was absent. So there is a good deal to be said on both sides, and so it seems to me it does boil down to just one thing, do we want the people to elect this man or do we want him appointed?"

-Delegate Katherine Nordale, Day 53 of the Constitutional Convention, speaking on the issue of the state executive. The convention wanted to avoid creating a position of Lieutenant Governor, whose only duty would be filling a vacancy in the governorship. The convention created the post of Secretary of State to serve as an administrative officer, in charge of various state functions. The Secretary of State would also serve as the successor to the Governor, should the chief executive not be able to fill his/her term. In 1970, voters of the State of Alaska ratified the Fourth Amendment to the Alaska Constitution, changing the title of the governor's successor from Secretary of State to Lieutenant Governor. Today, Alaska's Lieutenant Governor is responsible for:

  • Oversight of the Division of Elections
  • Oversight, review and filing of Administrative Regulations
  • Oversight of the use of the State of Alaska Seal
  • Publishing and distribution of the Alaska Constitution

Source: "Duties and Functions of the Lieutenant Governor," Lieutenant Governor's Website