Remembering Johnny Ellis

It’s with a heavy heart we learned today that the great Sen. Johnny Ellis, who represented Anchorage in the Alaska Legislature from 1986 to 2017, has died. He was 61.

"I always kept in mind and heart that I was there in the legislature to stand up and represent people in my district who cannot afford to hire a lobbyist."

With an incredible work ethic and devotion to Alaska politics, he’s touched the state in countless, immeasurable ways. I knew him as a kind, approachable, observant and deeply funny legislator who seemed to have a knack of lifting up everyone around him. He was one of the first outside of the Fairbanks delegation who cared who I was as a young nobody stumbling his way through his first session, which speaks not only to his character but his acumen as a policymaker.

His contributions to Alaska through the political world meant he sacrificed much in his personal life, an account relayed in a 2016 column by Charles Wohlforth.

In place of today’s column, I wanted to use this space as an opportunity to remember Johnny. I’ve made this post into a thread where you can leave a comment with a memory of Johnny.

And, if you’re in Anchorage, don’t forget to vote in the upcoming April election.