A longtime Homer hotelier announced his candidacy Wednesday for the Alaska House of Representatives District 30 seat. Jon Faulkner, owner of Land's End Resort, is challenging Rep. Paul Seaton, the incumbent who also is from Homer, for the Republican Party nomination.
"The southern Kenai Peninsula deserves a choice in this upcoming election, and I represent a more conservative voice for change than the incumbent," Faulkner said. "I love this state and I'm committed to building a bright future for our children."
Upon hearing that Faulkner had formally filed to run, Seaton said: "This is what elections are about. Elections are about people coming out and talking to the electorate. ... It makes for a much more interesting debate and a decision by the electorate."
Faulkner, 51, was born in Anchorage and has lived in Homer since 1990 after he acquired Land's End Resort, a hotel, restaurant and conference center on the Homer Spit. Faulkner also owns the resort's parent company, Land's End Acquisition Corporation, which includes the Land's End Lodges condominiums, the Van Gilder Hotel in Seward and Kenai Landing, the old Wards Cove Cannery in Kenai. Land's End Acquisition employs 60 people year round and 120 seasonally.
The son of Sewell "Stumpy" Faulkner and June White, his stepfather, Barrie White Jr., was a delegate to Alaska's Constitutional Convention. Faulkner attended Anchorage schools through ninth grade and went to high school at St. Paul's School, Concord, N.H. He graduated cum laude with a bachelor of science in American history and literature from Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. Married to his wife Sara for 28 years, they have five children ages 14 to 28.
Faulkner said he sees the issues of the campaign to be jobs, the economy, fisheries, oil and gas development, education, taxation and the environment.
"All of these subjects demand vetting," he said.
In contrast to Seaton, Faulkner said he considers himself more conservative, primarily on economic issues. He said his core principles include a profound respect for the free enterprise system, respect for constitutional rights and freedoms, less government regulation, and recognition of the struggle small businesses go through every day to make a profit.
"The backbone of our economy is small business," Faulkner said.
Support for free enterprise doesn't mean he backs Gov. Sean Parnell's proposed tax reforms for the oil and gas industry.
"I'd rather see $2 billion in the Permanent Fund than in the pockets of Exxon and BP," Faulkner said.
Incentives like those created for oil and gas companies exploring and developing prospects in the Cook Inlet region are working, he said, and the approach government should take.
"I believe they'll be more sensitive to the local economy and local job than Exxon or BP," he said of companies like Apache working in Cook Inlet.
Faulkner said it's important that small businesses not be burdened by excessive regulation that often can drive business to large corporations that have the means to work with complex regulation.
"We get Wal-Mart if we don't support Ulmer's," he said. "We get Fred Meyer if we don't support Save-U-More."
Although he supports bringing natural gas to Homer, Faulkner criticized the approach taken by Seaton where the state awarded an $8.1 million grant to Enstar Natural Gas to build the distribution pipeline.
"The outcome I support," Faulkner said. "The means for getting to that point -- I agree with a private sector approach."
That's an example of his conservative philosophy, he said.
"The private sector should do it if it can be done," Faulkner said.
He believes in state funded capital projects. "But I don't have my hand out asking for funds for things that can be done by the private sector," he said.
Faulkner said he plans to campaign hard over the next three months leading up to the primary election on Aug. 28. He wants to see six or more debates with Seaton.
"Three months of dialogue, debate and a good hard campaign," he said.
So far, only Faulkner and Seaton have filed for the House District 30 seat. The winner of the Republican Party primary will face a Democratic Party, other party candidates or an independent in the general election. The filing deadline is June 1.
Seaton formerly represented Homer and Seward in House District 35. He was first elected in 2002 after beating the then incumbent, Drew Scalzi, for the Republican Party nomination. Homer became part of House District 30 with reapportionment, a district that no longer includes Seward but does include the central Kenai Peninsula to Kasilof and Funny River.
One stumbling block in the election is that the U.S. Department of Justice has not reviewed and approved an amended redistricting plan. The Alaska Supreme Court told the Alaska Redistricting Board to create new districts in Southeast Alaska and Fairbanks that complied with the Alaska Constitution. The board did that and submitted a new plan for court approval. However, the U.S. Voting Rights Act requires Alaska to submit redistricting plans to the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice has 60 days to review new plans and may not do so in time for the primary election.
Seaton said he is waiting to see how reapportionment is settled before he starts his campaign.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.