Fran Ulmer

Frances Ann "Fran" Ulmer (born February 1, 1947) is an American administrator and Democratic politician from the U.S. state of Alaska. She served as lieutenant governor of Alaska from 1994 to 2002 under Governor Tony Knowles, becoming the first woman elected to statewide office in Alaska. She later served as the Chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA).

Fran Ulmer
Fran Ulmer Chair Arctic Research Commission 2011.jpg
Chair of the United States Arctic Research Commission
Assumed office
March 10, 2011
PresidentBarack Obama
Donald Trump
Preceded byMead Treadwell
7th Lieutenant Governor of Alaska
In office
December 5, 1994 – December 2, 2002
GovernorTony Knowles
Preceded byJack Coghill
Succeeded byLoren Leman
Member of the Alaska House of Representatives
from the 4-B &3 district
In office
January 19, 1987 – December 5, 1994
Preceded byJim Duncan
Succeeded byKim Elton
Mayor of Juneau
In office
Preceded byBill Overstreet
Succeeded byErnest Polley
Personal details
Born (1947-02-01) February 1, 1947 (age 73)
Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Bill Council
(m. 1977; died 2013)
ChildrenAmy, Louis
EducationUniversity of Wisconsin, Madison (BA, JD)

Early lifeEdit

Frances Ann "Fran" Ulmer was born in Madison, Wisconsin and grew up in Horicon, Wisconsin. Her parents owned a furniture store and a funeral home in the area. Her education included a bachelor's degree with a double major in economics and political science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a juris doctor cum laude from the University of Wisconsin Law School.[1] In 2018, Fran was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Alaska Anchorage. In 1977, she married attorney Bill Council. They had two children. They were married until his death in 2013.[1][2]

Alaska politicsEdit

Ulmer in 2002

Ulmer first began working in Alaska in 1973 as a lawyer at the Legislative Affairs Agency in Juneau, Alaska. Ulmer worked as a legislative assistant for Jay Hammond, the Republican governor of Alaska from 1975 through 1977. He appointed her Director of Policy Development and Planning that year, a role she held until 1981.[3] She served on Juneau's Planning and Zoning Commission from 1981 to 1983.

She served as mayor of Juneau from 1983 to 1985 and was in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1987 to 1994 as a Democrat, where she sponsored and won approval of legislation concerning criminal justice, education, public administration, health, and transportation. From 1993 to 1994 she served as the house minority leader.

In 1994 she won the open primary for the nomination for lieutenant governor. She was elected to two four-year terms on the Democratic ticket, along with Governor Tony Knowles.[4] In that post, she became a nationally recognized leader in election reform and making government more efficient and accessible through telecommunications. During her tenure, Alaska became the first state to replace the punched card system with a statewide optical scanning ballot counting system.

Alaska gubernatorial election, 2002Edit

In 2002, she won the nomination of the Democratic party for the office of governor. She lost the election to the Republican candidate, U.S. Senator Frank Murkowski.[5]

Post electoral careerEdit

In 2003, Fran was a fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics in Cambridge, MA. In 2004, she accepted a teaching job at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. She served as the Director of the Institute of Economic and Social Research (ISER) at UAA. In March 2007, University of Alaska system President Mark R. Hamilton appointed Ulmer interim chancellor for the University of Alaska Anchorage. In April 2008, she accepted the position of chancellor on a permanent basis. As chancellor, she was responsible for governing UAA and its eight satellite facilities in Southcentral Alaska. On January 22, 2010, she announced her intent to resign from the Chancellor's position at UAA, effective 2011.[6][7]

At the national level, Ulmer served as a member of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission for ten years, on the Federal Communications Commission’s State and Local Advisory Committee, the Federal Elections Commission's State Advisory Committee, and as co-chair of the Aspen Institute's Arctic Climate Change Commission.

In June 2010, President Barack Obama appointed Ulmer to the seven-member National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. The commission was charged with investigating the causes of the explosion and oil spill and recommending changes to prevent future disasters.[8] She served on the boards of the Alaska Nature Conservancy, the CIRI Foundation, Commonwealth North, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Union of Concerned Scientists, [4] and she currently chairs the global board of The Nature Conservancy (2019-present).

In July 2014, Ulmer was appointed a special advisor to John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, on arctic issues.[9] She endorsed the building of more icebreakers to allow the United States Coast Guard to better research the arctic.[10] In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Ulmer as chair of the US Arctic Research Commission, and she still serves in that capacity.

Electoral historyEdit

Alaska House of Representatives, District 4, Seat B, 1986[citation needed]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Fran Ulmer 7,957 66.5
Republican Leslie E. "Red" Swanson 3,928 32.8
Write-in 64 0.5
Alaska House of Representatives, District 4, Seat B, 1990[citation needed]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Fran Ulmer 8,564 70.3
Republican Cathy Crawford 3,555 29.9
Write-in 60 0.4
Democratic hold
Alaska House of Representatives, District 3, 1992[citation needed]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Fran Ulmer 5,210 69.8
Republican Dale Anderson 2,233 29.9
Write-in 19 0.2
Alaska lieutenant governor primary, 1994 [11][citation needed]
Party Candidate Votes %
Alaskan Independence Jack Alleman 2,173 3.6
Democratic Fran Ulmer 40,442 66.1
Green Roger Lewis 3,570 5.8
Alaskan Independence Tom Staudenmaier 2,831 4.6
Democratic Bill Sabo 5,771 9.4
Alaskan Independence Margaret Ward 6,356 10.4
2002 gubernatorial election, Alaska[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Frank Murkowski 129,279 55.85 +38.0
Democratic Fran Ulmer 94,216 40.70 -10.6
Green Diane E. Benson 2,926 1.26 -1.7
Alaskan Independence Don Wright 2,185 0.94 +0.9
Republican Moderate Raymond VinZant 1,506 0.65 -5.5
Libertarian Billy Toien 1,109 0.48 +0.5
Write-ins 263 0.11 -19.7
Majority 35,063 15.2 -17.8
Turnout 231,484 50.5 +1.9
Republican gain from Democratic Swing -48.2

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Ulmer, Fran (1998). "Lieutenant Governor Fran Ulmer, Democrat". Alaska Division of Elections. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  2. ^ Alexander, Rosemarie (September 12, 2013). "Update: Bill Council – a "lawyer's lawyer"". KTOO Public Media. Juneau, Alaska. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  3. ^ Volz, Matt (August 3, 2005). "Jay Hammond dies at 83". Juneau Empire. Juneau, Alaska. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Fran Ulmer Transformative Research Award, University of Alaska, Anchorage. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  5. ^ Broder, John M. (November 7, 2002). "The 2002 Elections: Governors; Bright Spots, Amid Dim Ones, for Democrats". The New York Times. New York, New York. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  6. ^ Burkhart, Aaron (May 29, 2007). "Ulmer assumes chancellorship". The Northern Light. Anchorage, Alaska: University of Alaska Anchorage. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  7. ^ Walters, Kam (January 22, 2010). "Ulmer announces retirement". The Northern Light. Anchorage, Alaska: University of Alaska Anchorage. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  8. ^ "President Obama names Chancellor Fran Ulmer to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill". 14 June 2010. Archived from the original on June 28, 2010. Retrieved June 16, 2010.
  9. ^ Bradner, Tim (July 17, 2014). "Ulmer named to advise Kerry on Arctic issues". Alaska Journal of Commerce. Anchorage, Alaska.
  10. ^ Zarroli, Jim (author) (September 1, 2015). "Obama Asks Congress To Fund New Coast Guard Icebreakers" (Transcript) (Radio). National Public Radio. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  11. ^ Due to ballot access issues raised by the Republican Party of Alaska, this was an open primary for all recognized political parties with the sole exception of the Republicans.
  12. ^ "State of Alaska General Election – November 5, 2002 – Official Results". State of Alaska Division of Elections. Archived from the original on 2008-07-17. Retrieved 2008-07-19.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Bill Overstreet
Mayor of Juneau
Succeeded by
Ernest Polley
Preceded by
Jack Coghill
Lieutenant Governor of Alaska
Succeeded by
Loren Leman
Party political offices
Preceded by
Max Gruenberg
Democratic Leader of the Alaska House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Jerry Mackie
Preceded by
Willie Hensley
Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Alaska
1994, 1998
Succeeded by
Ernie Hall
Preceded by
Tony Knowles
Democratic nominee for Governor of Alaska
Succeeded by
Tony Knowles
Alaska House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ramona Barnes
Minority Leader of the Alaska House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Jerry Mackie