Reggie Joule from Kotzebue today announced he won’t run for another term in the House. He’s been a member there for sixteen years. Since his first election, Joule has been a strong voice for a large assortment of rural issues, from clean water to transportation. For the past two years, he pushed for rural energy-related projects and chaired the Northern Waters Task Force that gave rise to the Arctic Policy Commission this year.
In recent years, Joule has also been the public face to efforts to restore the Bush Caucus — an informal group of legislators from coastal districts not on the state’s road system.
Joule is a Democrat, but allied his district with the Republican-dominated majority caucus in the House two years ago. His district includes most of Northwestern Alaska.
The governor sent out a press release that might make you think he has solved one of the state’s biggest non-monetary problems: the horribly high number of suicides we see.
The press release says the state is stronger in its fight against suicides because the legislature, in a bill sponsored by Anchorage Republican Anna Fairclough, agreed to put one more person on the now-17-member Suicide Prevention Council. Do you really think that having another person on some Council will make many people will think twice before they … whatever?
With flowery words, he also signed a bill requiring all school personnel to have some sort of training in suicide awareness, prevention and intervention.
(You won’t get this from the governor’s press release, but the bill was sponsored by Bettye Davis, a Democrat who is also a Senator – two unacceptable traits not worthy of a gubernatorial nod.)
It will be interesting seeing how this one develops – a telephone training session for over-worked people. Most schools already have someone specifically trained in dealing with suicides – the Counselors. Problem is, there are not enough of them throughout the state. And in too many places they are given odd jobs that do not use the skills they have. Maybe the training will direct principals, teachers and other staff members to their in-house resources.