Incumbent U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, and his opponents fielded questions in a forum addressing issues ranging from national concerns about the economy to federal government and Alaska’s economic longevity.
Young faced several of his challengers including John Cox, an Anchor Point Republican; Matt Moore, an Anchorage Democrat; and Frank Vondersaar, a Homer Democrat at the Wednesday forum hosted at the Soldotna Sports Center by the Kenai and Soldotna Chambers of Commerce. Eagle River Republican opponent Terre Gales had a seat also, but was absent.
In his introductory remarks Young said he wants to bring Alaska together.
“We have to start thinking of this state as a whole,” he said, “not as Kenai Peninsula or Mat-Su or Juneau. ... Together, we can provide for future generations. Separated, the federal government is going to run you.”
He said he has served for more than 40 years as a representative, and he can still serve effectively in the position.
Moore, who has more than 20 years experience as a businessman and Alaskan, addressed the future generation in his opening remarks.
“I believe that we need to ensure that our children are well educated and trained,” he said, “that they need to have respect for our resources, and that they need to responsibly develop our resources in the future.”
Cox, who is a retired Navy veteran, said in the past the country had trusted him with U.S. lives, and he said he never lost one. Now he is asking voters to trust him again.
He was also adamant he is not a politician — he is a statesman, he said, “like our forefathers.”
“That’s what this job is supposed to be,” he said. “We’re supposed to go there (Washington) and do a civic duty and come back home to Alaska and live as Alaskans.”
Vondersaar said he is pro-jobs, pro-choice and anti-fascist. His top priorities are promoting an open government and “ending the fascist culture of corruption where politicians are bought by the highest bidder.”
He wants to restore the civil and constitutional rights “trashed by the Bush and Reagan fascists.”
“We must return to a one-persons, one-vote system held by public financing and political campaigns,” he said from prepared material.
When the candidates were asked what areas they were concerned about and how they plan to correct them if elected, Vondersaar listed the economy, national security and civil and constitutional rights as areas of concern.
Moore said he was concerned about the state’s energy, its economy and the rising cost of health care.
“Energy in this state — we need to start thinking about — instead of pipelines going from north to south — we need to be going from sources to points of need,” he said.
He said while Alaska is still a resource-based state, the state has to begin looking for options to diversify its industry.
“For economy — we need to start looking at improving our exportables that we have,” he said.
For Young, energy was also an important topic.
“We need to have power in the state created by the state and for the people in the state,” he said. “It’s time for the state to stand up. ... It’s crucially important to the state.”
He said state change must happen in unison.
“I think we ought to start having sister cities within the state, working together — not adversaries disagreeing with everybody — working together as a state as a whole,” Young said.
Cox’s central concerns were budgetary.
“No matter what other issue there is on the street — whether it be abortion, church, religion, oil pipelines — until we get the budget balanced in this federal government, it doesn’t matter what we try to do,” he said.
He said “hard cuts” need to be made in Washington despite the consequences.
Young, if elected, said he would cut regulations.
He said there are currently 1.85 million regulatory laws that have never been voted on.
“Every committee in this state is faced with federal regulations and state regulations that inhibits the ability to produce resources, inhibits the ability for freedom,” he said.
He also said that regulatory bureaucracies muddle business operations.
“Try going into the business ... how many pieces of paper do you have to fill out?” he said. “It’s tremendous. It doesn’t contribute anything to the economy.”
Moore said he wanted to see action in Washington.
“We’ve been gridlocked for three years,” he said. “At the end of this year, we’re going to have an opportunity to have sequestration, which means things like Medicare and Medicaid — they’re going to be cut.”
He said this will be a 30 percent cut to the providers.
“That means those providers aren’t going to be seeing those folks anymore; they’re going to be closing their doors,” he said.
He also addressed the budget, saying that fixing it will require someone who can build a coalition, power other people and avoid “putting themselves in the middle, not making it about them.”
If Vondersaar was elected, he said he would work to eradicate Citizens United and reinstate the individual voice.
“The situation that we have now — where politicians are bought and paid for by the highest bidder — is intolerable,” he said. “We’re not living in a democracy; we’re living in a plutocracy. Money is the only thing that talks.”
Cox said he would establish a voice for small businesses.
“Let’s get the government out of our way,” he said. “Let small business throughout the United States make a living.”
He said the government only produced dependency, and less small-business regulations are the only way to foster independence. He also said he would correct tax codes so everyone can understand them.
Dan Schwartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org