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Micciche, Wagoner talk oil, fish, state issues

Posted: August 16, 2012 - 8:37am  |  Updated: August 16, 2012 - 8:39am
Sen. Tom Wagoner and Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche face off in a debate Wednesday before a joint meeting of the Kenai and Soldotna chambers of commerce.  M. Scott Moon
M. Scott Moon
Sen. Tom Wagoner and Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche face off in a debate Wednesday before a joint meeting of the Kenai and Soldotna chambers of commerce.

Two local Republican candidates jousting for the Alaska State Senate squared off Wednesday at a debate hosted by the Kenai and Soldotna Chambers of Commerce.

Incumbent state Sen. Tom Wagoner and Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche outlined their visions for the state, talked about local and state challenges and addressed topics like oil and gas, fishing, taxes and the state’s budget.

Wagoner has served in the senate since 2003, is the former mayor of Kenai and a retired small businessman and commercial fisherman. Micciche is the current mayor of Soldotna and superintendent of ConocoPhillips’ Kenai LNG facility.

Both are running for Senate District O, which covers House Districts 29 and 30, further defined as Kenai and Soldotna south to Homer. The primary election is on Aug. 28. No Democrats have registered to challenge the winner after the primary.

Micciche told the audience he represented new ideas and a fresh perspective while Wagoner said he represented experience and tenure.

When asked to share their top three priorities, both agreed on controlling the state budget and building a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to tidewater. However, Micciche said his third priority was managing local sport and commercial fisheries and Wagoner said his was resolving lingering state oil and gas tax issues.

“We are at a critical point and we can’t stand the increased spending that’s been going on for the last 10 years,” Wagoner said.

Micciche said he is running because he was approached by local Republicans who “asked about some help.” Legislators haven’t been making decisions needed to move forward, he said.

“I’m a conservative guy, my record proves that,” he said. “Tom talked about the state budget issues, but for the last ten years, he’s been there and has been unable to whittle away the incredible spending that has doubled that budget in the last seven.”

Both candidates were asked about the current revival of oil and gas exploration in Cook Inlet and how they would continue to support it.

Wagoner said many companies are looking for oil, not just gas, and the tax structure helps spur all exploration.

“I think what’s going on in Cook Inlet pretty well speaks for itself of what I am capable of doing with legislation to support the oil and gas industry, which by the way, has created a tremendous amount of jobs in the Cook Inlet basin,” Wagoner said. “They are still hiring people and they are hiring local.”

Micciche said the market — “$6 summer gas and up to $14 winter gas” — has more to do with the exploration than state incentive programs.

“No one is taking advantage of these incentives that are saving the world and I applaud them, I’m glad they are there,” he said. “There may be a use for them for a company looking in a certain place, but it is always market-based.”

Both candidates were asked about how they would make sure Nikiski remains a viable option to be the terminus for a North Slope gas pipeline rather than Valdez.

Wagoner said he helped appropriate money to do a study looking at Nikiski’s assets and detailing information companies would need to make that decision.

“We are going to be directly competitive with the city of Valdez — that is just the way it is going to be and I think we are in a good position to incentivize the construction of the 48 inch line and have it come to Cook Inlet,” he said.

Micciche said he wasn’t concerned with where the pipeline goes — rather that it is just built, that the legislature get away from being narrow-minded, “squabbling about things that don’t matter” and work together.

“The reality of it is, who cares?” he said. “Let’s figure out how to get the gas to market after 40 years, put it to a grid area where someone want to invest in that extra infrastructure to get it to their town, that’s fine. But, make it available for all Alaskans along the way.”

Both were also asked about management of local fisheries, specifically related to this year’s low king salmon run.

Both Wagoner and Micciche agreed the king fishery needs to be enhanced.

“We have to address the shortage of king salmon and the best way to get started with that is through king salmon enhancement and then take a look at the board structure and see what we can do about that,” Wagoner said, adding the Board of Fisheries needs to be a “professional board instead of a lay board.”

Micciche local fish managers need to understand how many kings are coming into the Kenai River and that the area needs local managers to make decisions based on biology.

“For anyone who has attended and watched our honorable local biologists look down with their heads shaking because their politically-appointed people above them are pulling the strings, (knows) it is the wrong way to run fisheries,” he said.

 

Brian Smith can be reached at brian.smith@peninsulaclarion.com.

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Suss
3044
Points
Suss 08/16/12 - 11:26 am
5
1
Peggy's Letter

Ms. Mullen is spot on. Big Oil has no Bill Allen, so now they draft their own employees to get elected to do their bidding. We need fewer oil company employees in charge of Alaska.
http://peninsulaclarion.com/opinion/letters/2012-08-16/comparing-the-senate-district-o-candidates

Redbrdee
401
Points
Redbrdee 08/16/12 - 12:19 pm
3
1
Suss, Peggy's Letter

An excellent observation that needs to be remembered every day of every election season!

KMarx
170
Points
KMarx 08/16/12 - 09:46 pm
2
1
Micciche What Are you Thinking?

You don't care where a proposed in-state natural gas pipeline terminates? Was that a joke? A $30-$40 billion LNG plant and you wouldn't fight to have it located on the Peninsula? And you also want the State to pay for it so that your employer gets by on the cheap! Wow!

You'd also want us to believe that the incentives for exploration and development in the Cook Inlet Basin have nothing to do with the resurgence of activity in the area. Shame on you, you should give credit where credit is due.

goround
10
Points
goround 08/17/12 - 01:01 pm
2
2
Micciche is the best choice

Mayor Micciche has accomplished much and he will do the same as a State Senator. His record of community service is second to none. The point made as to where the pipe goes was referencing the fact that the most important thing for Alaska is to get a pipe built instead of continuing to fight over every point. It is outrageous to suggest that Micciche will choose the oil industry over Alaska. We need new faces in Juneau and Peter will do a great job there!

denseyler@yahoo.com
46
Points
denseyler@yahoo.com 08/17/12 - 05:42 pm
1
1
Replace Tom Wagoner

Go, Peter, Go! I'm behind you all the way. Tom has accomplished nothing the last two years. Unless you count selecting an official state gun as an accomplishment. I have sent Tom several emails the last two years and received not a single reply to any. Nothing but a big fat cat who needs replaced. THIS YEAR!!!!!

Seafarer
1147
Points
Seafarer 08/18/12 - 09:32 am
3
0
Gasline to Nikiski

I don't get that we would compete with Valdez. Valdez is ice-free 365, Cook Inlet ain't! What's the question?

lsemmens
8
Points
lsemmens 08/18/12 - 01:12 pm
1
1
Story misses points on Gasline

From the perspective of someone that was there at the debate, this story does not cover the important pieces of the gas line discussion. First of all, “the grid” Peter discussed is really the only grid in the state and is the one that supplies Cook Inlet, the Nikiski industrial area and eventually your home if you are on natural gas. The new line must connect to this grid.

When Micciche answered the question at the debate he talked about several things. He explained that he had been working against political moves designed to discredit Nikiski as the best choice, he explained that his goal was to return the hundreds of jobs lost at the Agrium plant by building a pipeline from the slope. Micciche’s attitude that it should be available to all Alaskans along the route (Fairbanks) is sort of the way our state is supposed to work. He also said that if someone wants to invest the extra Billion $ or so routing the line somewhere else after “the grid”, they have every right to do so.

The main point is that parochialism by legislators has kept the line from being built and we absolutely need the guaranteed supply from North Slope gas. Anything else is merely a roll of the dice that we can no longer afford and the best thing is that the cost of shipping gas from the Slope to here still keeps Cook Inlet production competitive in case anyone here finds gas in the future.

P.S. - I was one of the district Republicans that suggested Micciche run for the Senate. His performance and conservative philosophy has been remarkably successful for this area and would go so much farther in Juneau.

BigRedDog
654
Points
BigRedDog 08/19/12 - 06:45 am
1
0
Reducing Capital Budget

Just incase you haven't noticed in the past 10 to 15 years there has been a significant decline in Alaska's economy. The large capital projects budgets of this recent past has been very much needed to offset this decline. When industry reduces it's spending in the drastic fashion observed in recent years something was needed to keep our constrution industry rolling. The larger than normal capitol spending has helped to do just that. Looks like that pendulum is swinging back in the right direction with increased investment and interest throughout the Cook Inlet.
The stimulus of incentives which spurred this interest has shown the proof is in the Pudding! To distract or dicredit Senator Wagners actions, which certainly spurred recent developements; just ignores the pudding on your table. To state publicly that Senator Wagner has been unable to GET ANYTHING accomplished is just false and very untrue. Just what hole would our local economy be in RIGHT NOW with out Senator Wagners recent accomplishments? So saying your candidate is newer, shinier, is cool; but what has he done Lately?
Just observing the quality of life enjoyed bye all of us lucky enough to call the Kenai home, one reflects on just what enhances the quality of life we enjoy. Education has helped folks from all walks of life to prosper. What one institution has brought more prosperity to the people of the Kenai than the KPCC? The KPCC was the dream of Senator Wagner, Mayor John Williams, and the late Professor Dennis Stephy. To bring this great college into the reality of rural Alaska was a major accomplishment. That these gentlemen focussed thier lives and talents towards that goal has brought great things to the Kenai. I look forward to seeing what else we will be blessed with through Senator Wagners efforts. Try and be a blessing in all you say and do, "You can never tell when it just might work!"

BigRedDog
654
Points
BigRedDog 08/19/12 - 06:45 am
0
0
Reducing Capital Budget

Just incase you haven't noticed in the past 10 to 15 years there has been a significant decline in Alaska's economy. The large capital projects budgets of this recent past has been very much needed to offset this decline. When industry reduces it's spending in the drastic fashion observed in recent years something was needed to keep our constrution industry rolling. The larger than normal capitol spending has helped to do just that. Looks like that pendulum is swinging back in the right direction with increased investment and interest throughout the Cook Inlet.
The stimulus of incentives which spurred this interest has shown the proof is in the Pudding! To distract or dicredit Senator Wagners actions, which certainly spurred recent developements; just ignores the pudding on your table. To state publicly that Senator Wagner has been unable to GET ANYTHING accomplished is just false and very untrue. Just what hole would our local economy be in RIGHT NOW with out Senator Wagners recent accomplishments? So saying your candidate is newer, shinier, is cool; but what has he done Lately?
Just observing the quality of life enjoyed bye all of us lucky enough to call the Kenai home, one reflects on just what enhances the quality of life we enjoy. Education has helped folks from all walks of life to prosper. What one institution has brought more prosperity to the people of the Kenai than the KPCC? The KPCC was the dream of Senator Wagner, Mayor John Williams, and the late Professor Dennis Stephy. To bring this great college into the reality of rural Alaska was a major accomplishment. That these gentlemen focussed thier lives and talents towards that goal has brought great things to the Kenai. I look forward to seeing what else we will be blessed with through Senator Wagners efforts. Try and be a blessing in all you say and do, "You can never tell when it just might work!"

Redbrdee
401
Points
Redbrdee 08/19/12 - 11:59 am
0
0
Pebble????

Do either of these two have an opinion on Pebble???

Allen
579
Points
Allen 08/20/12 - 05:37 pm
3
0
Peter Micciche - Oil Company Tool?

Thanks to the Clarion for noticing that Peter Micciche is an oil company employee. No doubt he will vote the way his employer tells him to if he gets elected. It's amazing that the oil industry has the nerve to openly run one of their employees to get rid of Tom Wagoner, so they can get their billion dollar tax break. Thanks to Tom for not bending over for Big Oil, and asking hard questions about Governor Parnell's big windfall tax break for the oil industry. Micciche won't do that.

lsemmens (Larry Semmens) is Micciche's campaign manager if I am not mistaken.

Lots of people in Kenai see Peter Micciche as an abrasive divider and a big fan of government chronyism. In our town, he was behind the Kenai Recreation Center fiasco (no-bid sweetheart contract for the Boys and Girls Club when he was President of their board) and also the no-bid Conoco-Phillips "naming" of the KCHS hockey rink. In Soldotna, he was so divisive over the cemetery that he had that town up in arms.

Yes, we know that now he ways he is a "conservative," because that's what he thinks it takes to get elected and he'll say anything to get elected. But he doesn't walk that talk.

akresident
9
Points
akresident 08/23/12 - 10:43 am
0
0
inherent bias

The fact that he is a long term and current employee of one of Alaskas biggest oil companies would create too much bias to be effective or ethical in Juneau. If his personal values were ethical he would see the difficulty performing the job given his employer. He would be unable to avoid the appearance of imropriety. And yes, using free psas and oil company donations to promote your polical aspirations is obvious.

julie
135
Points
julie 08/28/12 - 06:29 pm
0
0
End Salmon Bycatch Petition

Micchichie and all the rest are missing the issues with regards to salmon & pebble mine. The big corporations i.e. oil & pollock trawlers are the ones that have already gained control. Are these guys in bed with them? We all know & Micchichie knows that the trawlers are killing the salmon and the oil spill etc will ruin the run at Pebble. Sign this petition & lets get something done that all the politicians are not doing anything about.http://signon.org/sign/end-salmon-halibut-bycatch

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