I first 'met' Laurie Hummel when she was interviewed by the Alaska Redistricting Board with two other finalists for the executive director position last year. I put 'met' in quotes because I was listening in by phone from my mom's house in LA.
The result of the interview was one of the more effusive blog posts I've written. She had all the qualifications for the position and more. A PhD in cultural geography which meant she knew all about mapping. When they asked her if she knew the software program they used to do the mapping, her response was, "Well, I've never taught a class on it." That wasn't a cheeky answer. She'd explained that she'd taught classes in GIS in general just before.
What about her experience with Alaska Natives? At that point the federal Voting Rights Act section that required Alaska to get pre-clearance from the Justice Department hadn't yet been struck down by the US Supreme and so knowledge of Alaska Native regions was important. Her answer - she wrote her doctoral dissertation on the impact of the military on Alaska Natives.
What kind of experience did she have in dealing with sensitive situations? Well, while in the army (she retired as a colonel), one of her projects in Afghanistan was to help integrate women into the Afghan military.
She was ready for every question with a perfect response in a very modest and respectful tone. For specific Alaska administrative procedures she hadn't worked with - like travel rules - she checked online and had the regulations. I couldn't believe the Board had found such a perfect applicant. I was blown away with how amazingly she handled the interview. Apparently the Board was too. So much so that soon after they announced they decided not to fill the position. My guess is that they were afraid of someone so well qualified, head and shoulders above most of the members of the Board to do this job.
So I found her email and asked if she'd talk to me when I got back into town. I wanted to meet this woman. We had a very pleasant conversation and I went away convinced that my first impression was right. We talked a few more times over the phone and by email. I learned that she was being recruited to run for office. That was not in any of her life plans she said. She was particularly turned off by the idea of asking people for money. In the end, it seems like the appeal to service got to her. If she thought politics was so bad, didn't she have a responsibility to do what she could to make it better? Is Juneau easy compared to Afghanistan?
I don't know her views on many issues, but I do know that she's a well educated candidate with significant military and Alaska experience. She's spent a good part of her military career in Anchorage where she served as the Alaskan Command’s Chief of Operations Intelligence. She's been on the West Point faculty (her alma mater.)
People who complain about the lack of good candidates should check out Laurie Hummel.
|Norm's on Bragaw and Debarr
noon to one
Thursday, January 23, 2014
The email I got also said that she's talking at the Bartlett Club tomorrow at noon. I think I've been to one or two such meetings in the last 30 years, but I'm planning to see how she does.