Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy Replaces State Transportation Commissioner
Updated: September 5, 2021 Posted: September 4, 2021
Alaska Transportation Commissioner John MacKinnon retired on Friday, and Governor Mike Dunleavy has appointed a 20-year transportation department official to replace him.
In a written statement Friday, the governor’s office said Dunleavy had appointed Ryan Anderson, director of the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities for the region that covers northern Alaska, as its new transportation commissioner. .
“It’s a great honor,” Anderson said on Saturday, adding that he had been asked if he would be interested in the job and accepted after talking with his family.
Anderson will immediately begin his duties as commissioner, said Jeff Turner, spokesperson for the governor.
Anderson said MacKinnon had planned to retire and was not aware of any bad feelings between the former commissioner and the governor.
Andy Mills, a special assistant in the transportation department, said MacKinnon had stepped up his retirement plans for family reasons. MacKinnon’s mother has health issues, Mills said, and he would like to spend more time with his grandchildren and work in his secluded southeastern cabin.
Dunleavy said in his statement he looked forward to working with Anderson, who “has built an admirable record of achievement and public service during his tenure at DOT. He is widely respected in northern Alaska for cultivating positive relationships with all relevant stakeholders while delivering vital public transport projects on time and on budget.
MacKinnon did not respond to a message left on his cell phone on Friday.
Anderson said he wanted to focus on employee health and public safety as long as the pandemic continues. He is following the debates in Congress on a new infrastructure bill and said that if it passes, the department will put effort into the projects that will be funded. An infrastructure bill could be an opportunity to speed up projects the state is already planning but which could last a year or two, he said.
In terms of ongoing projects, he believes the Cooper Landing bypass on the Kenai Peninsula is the department’s biggest ongoing issue. He also said he plans to learn more about the state ferry system, as he doesn’t have much experience in this area as the manager of the northern region.
The governor’s selection is subject to confirmation by the Alaska Legislature.
MacKinnon served as DOT deputy commissioner between 2003 and 2008, then became head of the Associated General Contractors of Alaska, a leading construction group. He was one of the first people selected for Dunleavy’s cabinet following the governor’s election in 2018.
MacKinnon’s wife, former State Senator Anna MacKinnon, heads the Permanent Fund Dividend division.
Anderson graduated in 1997 from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and joined the DOT as a rookie engineer in 2000 after three years working in underground mining, according to his state biography.
He lives with his wife and two children in Fairbanks. He said he intended to stay there as commissioner.