Story last updated at 1:38 p.m. Thursday, November 14, 2002

Seaton eager to get started in Juneau

New Homer rep tapped to chair Fisheries panel

by Chris Bernard
Staff Writer

After voters last week officially elected him as the District 35 State House representative, Homer's Paul Seaton is gearing up for his first session in Juneau.

Seaton, a Republican, beat incumbent Drew Scalzi in the August primary and ran unopposed in the November election. A 35-year Alaska resident, Seaton is a commercial fisherman and a small-businessman. He is also a former teacher.

The legislative session begins Jan. 21, but new legislator training begins a week earlier. Eager to get started, Seaton has already begun learning the ropes of his new job.

"I'm definitely looking forward to it," he said this week. "I've been doing all these mini-trainings, learning the statewide computer system, things like that. I'm doing all kinds of things to get set up ahead of time."

Legislators met last week in Anchorage to dole out committee assignments, which Seaton said are their "chief objectives" for the next two sessions.

Seaton's assignments include the chair of the Special Committee on Fisheries, vice chair of the Education Committee, and seats on the Health, Education and Social Services and State Affairs committees.

"It feels real good to have been elected," he said. "We had a good meeting organizing the House majority and picking the assignments. I'm looking forward to the fisheries committee, there's some real good people on that committee with me."

Southeast Rep. Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell, is also on the committee, and Seaton said he looks forward to working with her.

"She brings some Southeast perspective, and we need that," he said.

Seaton said he sees the education committee tackling foundation formula funding issues, and hopes to focus on disability health care and senior citizens in the HESS committee.

"I'm really glad to be in that committee," he said. "I have a lot of concern about those issues. The State Affairs committee will deal with lots of state and federal interaction and those kinds of things."

He said he is excited about some of the things last year's Legislature did that he hopes to follow through on during the upcoming session.

"The fisheries task force set up by the Legislature last year, that's been conducting hearings to see how we can help our salmon industry," he said. "I'm looking forward to that, and I'm really interested in the education issues and where those are going.

"Basically, we're looking at making it so the industries, fishing and otherwise, are not held up by state regulations anymore," Seaton said. "There's a lot of interesting, good people who are interested to participate in the new Legislature."

Seaton responded to a question about the outcome of the November general election diplomatically:

"There are a lot of nice folks who were elected, and they're going to be fun to work with," he said. "I'm looking forward to it."

Chris Bernard can be reached at cbernard@homer