Saddler sings into sophomore term

Eagle River legislator getting more comfortable in Juneau


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Rep. Dan Saddler shares his experiences during his freshman term in Juneau at a meeting of the Eagle River Rotary Club at the Eagle River Ale House. Saddler recently won re-election to the State House and will return to the Capitol in January.

MATT TUNSETH

Being a freshman isn’t always easy.

Simple things — finding your way around or learning basic etiquette — can be daunting. If you’re lucky, you’ll survive to become a sophomore full of worldly knowledge and the experience necessary to head into your second term with a song in your heart.

That’s how Republican legislator Rep. Dan Saddler, of Eagle River, plans to head into his second term as a member of the Alaska State House.

“You’re kinda starting to fit in and know things,” said Saddler, who will return to Juneau for his sophomore term in January.

Speaking at the Eagle River Rotary Club’s luncheon on Nov. 15, Saddler explained what he learned during his rookie campaign in the Capitol City. One of the first lessons learned was that it’s not all fun and games during the 90-day session. Although legislators do attend some receptions and parties during their terms, Saddler said most of his days — which typically began at 7 a.m. — were taken up with nearly nonstop meetings.

“It’s long days in the Capitol,” he said.

Sadler easily defeated challenger Glen Eichenlaub in the November general election. He first won a seat in the Legislature in 2010, meaning his sophomore term will actually be his third year in Juneau. He said he noticed a big difference just between his first and second years in the bicameral legislative body.

“The second year, all the ceremonial stuff is done,” he said.

After getting a year under his belt, Sadler said he began to feel more comfortable with the process and less intimidated by more experienced legislators.

“You kinda feel like you’re starting to fit in and know things,” he said.

Saddler said he learned some difficult lessons during his first term about how business is done in Juneau. Some bills — even good ones — end up dying on the floor, he said, and legislators can’t take that personally.

“Some good bills will just die,” he said.

But, he said, that doesn’t mean a legislator should give up. He said he plans to re-introduce a bill that would allow veterans free road tests when trying to get commercial driver licenses.

“It can be a long-term marathon, not a sprint,” he said of the political process.

Saddler finished his visit by breaking out his guitar and singing a parody song he wrote to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.” His humorous take on life in Juneau began with the Quixotic line, “Like a salmon every year I must return…”

Rotarians gave the second-term legislator a rousing round of applause after his performance.

“That was the mild version,” Saddler said of the song.

Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber Executive Director Suzie Gorski asked Saddler if he’d perform the song when local legislators make their annual visit to the chamber.

“We’ll talk,” Saddler replied.

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