There are so many issues facing Alaskans, and opportunities to be distracted and overwhelmed by their diversity. We as humans have a typical response of over-simplifying and becoming polarized in trying to quickly find a solution. A lot of the push-button subjects we hear talked about by politicians, including the standard snazzy words or catch phrases about “creating jobs,” or “economic growth”, or bringing “new vision” or “new leadership” etc etc are indeed just that, standard snazzy words and blah. If you consider the bigger picture, that model is currently driven by a cycle of perpetuating a two-party system controlling who we put in office and ultimately what drives our society. It is time to question the “party” going on.
Part of the success of the current party system is in using confusion, misdirection, finger-pointing, and frankly greed, to stay in power. I am here to offer an alternative to that system. It’s time to get real and put Alaskans First; not a party, not a national organization, nor any hype from the latest politically correct movement. This is about simply doing the right thing, putting common sense and the Alaskan Community First.
It is disappointing to see many candidates shying away from giving specific, straight answers to policy questions, for whatever reasons. If you want specifics about my perspective on hot-topic issues in Alaska, I'd be happy to discuss them with you. For now, and this is very simplified, I offer you the following basic position statements:
I have spent much of my career tracking and contributing to improvements to education funding and policies in Alaska. I have come to the conclusion that no amount of funding or laws can supplant the success of a child’s overall education without good parenting. Period. That said, our education system is still a fundamental government service that must be both adequately funded and held accountable. How we define what is adequate funding and accountability is elusive. In any event, I will continue to serve as a staunch proponent of our educational system, it being among the highest of priorities for our community.
Alaska has vast, largely untapped natural resources. We must keep in perspective who owns those resources. We must develop those resources carefully and responsibly in such a manner as to maximize their long-term value and potential for future generations of Alaskans. Our resources must be developed to first-and-foremost benefit the people who live and work in Alaska.
Ask yourself, who does the oil belong to? Depending on how you choose to answer that question will determine the policy path to follow from that starting point. I choose to say it is Alaskans’ oil. I will work to keep it that way.
Alaska’s Natural Gas
Similarly, who’s gas is it? It is Alaskans’ gas. We have wrangled for decades as to what to do with our natural gas. Our priority should be to develop the infrastructure ourselves, to support Alaskans’ consumption of natural gas before anyone else’s. Alaska’s founding fathers who wrote the State Constitution calls for the legislature to "provide for the utilization, development, and conservation of all natural resources belonging to the State, including land and waters, for the maximum benefit of its people." Let’s go back to acting accordingly.
Alaska’s Fish & Game
Alaska has a famous reputation for excellent fish and game resource management. I want to see that reputation being maintained, “for the maximum benefit of its people,” and for a sustained yield.
Alaska’s Timber & Minerals
I am not opposed to responsible, renewable timber harvest, nor placer gold mining activities, which can at times be spun to conflict with some fisheries. I thoroughly respect the environment and when pressed to choose, prefer to support a sustainable, long-term, renewable resource such as fish and game, over non-renewable hard-rock gold mining activity that may destroy long-term fish or game habitat. I reiterate the importance of observing the principles of sustainable yield.
Alaska’s Permanent Fund & PFD
It is Alaskans’ oil. The Permanent Fund was established as an investment in Alaska, for Alaskans. It was and continues to be a thoughtful means to convert a non-renewable resource (oil) into a renewable (cash) resource, to be shared amongst Alaskans perpetually. Permanent means Permanent. Let’s act like it. The PFD should not be tinkered with, nor used as leverage for, nor spent by the government. The state has other mechanisms to secure its revenue flow directly from, for example, oil production, and should hold the PFD harmless.
We all know the cost of living in Alaska is relatively high. I am not a fan of taxes, especially as it compounds the expense of living here. We need to re-evaluate the tax structure of our resource system before asking citizens to choke up more money out of pocket just to be able to keep their houses warm or the frig filled. No new taxes until we have exhausted every other means to make our state government and state program spending as efficient as possible.