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Micciche, Wagoner vying for Senate

Posted: August 24, 2012 - 8:32am  |  Updated: August 24, 2012 - 9:20am

Two candidates competing for the state senate this year are fielding two different strategies to win over voters — one says he has tenure and experience, the other claims a fresh perspective and ambition.

Incumbent state Sen. Tom Wagoner and Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche, both Republicans, are vying 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 Tuesday. No Democrats have registered to challenge the winner after the primary.


Tom Wagoner

Wagoner contends locals know him as an experienced legislator who has worked hard on both state and local issues.

“Most of these people know me, they know me very well,” he said. “Been here for 43 years, been their senator for 10 years, been their friend for 43 years, most of them.”

Wagoner, 69, is a former educator, businessman, and a commercial fisherman who still holds commercial halibut fishing quota. He was formerly a member of the Kenai City Council and mayor of Kenai.

“I don’t know what he is going to bring that I don’t already furnish,” he said, when asked about Micciche’s charge that he would bring a fresh perspective to the office. “He hasn’t come out and said what he would do that I haven’t done.”

Wagoner said his style when working in Juneau is to rely on the friendships he’s made to achieve compromises that benefit the area. It’s a give and a take, he said. But there are times when someone has to drag heels and he’s not afraid to do so.

“It isn’t what you pass in legislation, sometimes it is what you don’t pass that really counts,” he said.

He said his opponent’s claims that he will bring a fresh perspective to the Senate is just talk.

“That’s so much lip service,” Wagoner said. “He doesn’t understand. You don’t always accomplish what you want to accomplish when you go down into the Legislature. I can set seven goals ... and when I tell you that, I know that I’m not going to get all of that done. OK? The thing to do is to pick out one or two items — oil taxes, a reduction in the budget if at all possible, increased oil production and hopefully a gas pipeline.”

Wagoner said a lot of being in the Legislature is “positioning” and as a freshman legislator, “you don’t get much, especially if you are not in the majority,” and you can’t “set the world on fire.”

“Listen, I’ve got 10 years seniority,” he said. “If we have a Republican organization I will be in what’s called leadership. I could be the senate president. I could be the rules chairman. One of those is what I will go for — the two most powerful positions in the state senate. Why would you elect somebody with no experience who doesn’t have a chance in the world of being in leadership let alone have the chance to be in one of those two positions?”

On the issues, Wagoner said his top priorities are similar to Micciche’s — state budget reduction, oil taxes, natural gas pipeline and fisheries. But, Wagoner said education is important to him as well.

“The most important thing we do is educate our children, start to finish,” he said. “Probably the second most important is the university system. But every one of those children is a resource also.”

Wagoner is quick to mention his work on a package of Cook Inlet oil and gas exploration credits he said has made it possible for platforms to keep from shutting down and small companies to start up in the area.

“Peter thinks that isn’t any big deal,” he said. “These guys would not be in Cook Inlet right now. You would not have two jack up rigs, you would not have Hilcorp and I doubt you would have Apache if the tax structure in Cook Inlet were not what it is.”


Peter Micciche

Micciche said he is a quick study and a natural leader. He said he also has the ability to bring together both sides of an issue — something evidenced by his role in Soldotna, he said.

He contends he can be an effective first year legislator.

“Three terms has not made Tom Wagoner effective,” he said. “Some people hit the ground running and are effective leaders immediately and some people will never be a leader.”

Micciche, 50, is the superintendent of ConocoPhillips’ Kenai LNG facility, a position he has held since 2008. He started working for the company in 1985 as a roustabout. Micciche started coming to the area during the summers in the late 1970s and worked in the canneries before he finished his degree from Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage in organizational management.

If elected, Micciche said he would take a “leave of absence” from his post at the LNG facility while the Legislature is in session. That means he won’t be receiving a paycheck from ConocoPhillips during that time, which he said would be a financial detriment to his family.

“I believe it is most important for the state for the next generation and we both always put the community first before our own finances,” he said.

Micciche said he does not see a conflict between his employment and his aspiration to be a senator.

“Everyone does something else — no one lives on being a legislator,” he said. “The most important thing I am telling people is that I am putting my hand on the Bible for the people of Alaska just like I made a vow for the people of Soldotna. Everything else is just a job. It is unfortunate if people think in that manner that community servants should be neutralized from serving because of the other things they do for a living.”

Micciche said he is a “pretty accomplished individual in the areas that (voters) see important,” like oil, natural resources, budgeting and organization. He said he can help solve the gas pipeline riddle the state has been facing because he has an area of expertise no else has in the senate has. He said he would like to set that legislative body’s bar for performance higher.

“I’ve been here most of my life and people here know me,” he said. “I want them to remember that I am a tireless advocate for the community.”

He said incumbents will try to convince voters that “time in the chair” has made them more effective.

“Really the proof is in the pudding about leadership and effectiveness,” he said.

When asked about the charge that a seat in the state senate would be only a stepping stone to a further political career — a run at the Governor’s office or the federal level — Micciche said he doesn’t have any plans beyond this election.

“Am I going to say that I will never be interested in doing something else? That would be a foolish statement for anyone to make — you don’t know what the future brings,” he said.

However, he has thought for the last several years as Soldotna’s mayor about serving on the state level. He said that’s where he can be most effective.

“It wasn’t until I watched the complete lack of any forward motion in the last three sessions that I became interested,” he said.


Brian Smith can be reached at

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BigRedDog 08/24/12 - 09:07 am
We have Paid for Seniority

For 10 years we have been lining up our marbles for the big game hoping to score the bouty! our representatives have been ardent and focussed on bringing the bacon home to the Kenai. You can bet past representatives have watched as reps from tiny villages keep getting elected then reelected and have huge seniority and leadership role benefiting thier districts. It is important in the State level as well as the national level to have seniority and leadership positions and now we on the Kenai have paid the dues and watched our local delegates acheive this status. So we are going to throw that work out for a new face? The real big game is about to start and we don't want to look like we have totally lost our marbles! Let's stick with the guys that have the big old steelies and not go for that new shiny Cats Eye!

kenai.voter 08/24/12 - 12:00 pm
That was sad to read....

I've voted for Mr. Wagoner every time he's run for Senate previously and was likely going to vote for him again until I read his comments. Senator: Is there any humility in you at all? Or are you so stuck on yourself that you can't help but sound so arrogant? Perhaps that's why we haven't seen the success in Juneau; people like you spending more time bragging and boasting than actually working with others to get the job done.

Mr. Micciche, you have my vote

KMarx 08/24/12 - 10:10 pm
There is a clear choice

Oftentimes in races for elective office there is not a clear difference between the candidates, in this election that is not the case. We have listened to hours of Mr. Michecce telling us that as Soldotna's Mayor he has lowered taxes, and improved services. That's quite a trick coming from a weak mayor in a strong city manager form of government. I believe that Mr. Michecce, as mayor, is only able to vote in the case of a tie or to make a tie, so chances are he didn't even cast a vote when the Council voted to lower the property tax mill rate in Soldotna. To attempt to take credit for something that at best he is one vote out of seven reveals a significant flaw in character.Mr. Michecce also doesn't care about where a gas pipeline from the norhslope terminates as it "only needs to get to the grid. As a self-proclaimed expert in natural gas Mr. Michecce knows that north slope gas cannot simply be connected to the existing grid. North slope gas is not dry gas like Cook Inlet gas, it requires a plant costing several billion dollars at any take off point to condition the gas, and to utilize the natural gas liquids and other valuable compounds. In addition, the cost estimates prepared by the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation show that it is far more economical to bring the line to Cook Inlet rather than Valdez. Mr. Michicce also supports having the citizens of Alaska subsidize the cost of a pipeline to bring ConocoPhilips gas to market.

Likewise his repeated statements saying that the Legislature has for 40 years been unable to bring a gas-line to fruition is patently false. Until the last decade or so north slope gas was simply too valuable to oil production to bring the gas to market. To have produced gas would have left far more valuable oil stranded in the reservoirs.

The current city manager in Soldotna is also Mr. Michicces campaign manager, clearly a conflict of interest, and exhibits lack of judgement. A more significant conflict of interest is Mr. Michicce's employment. He will continue as a senior employee of ConocoPhilipps.

Mr. Michicce's criticism of the past Senate coalition shows a lack of understanding of how the system works. Sometimes the system works better than other times, but to be content to sit on the sidelines (which is what he has said he would do) rather than represent his district to the best of his ability is ludicrious.

Maybe someday Mr. Michecce will have matured to the point where he is not driven simply by ego to seek higher office, but he's not there yet.

lsemmens 08/25/12 - 09:06 am
KMarx Fact Check

Kmarx you are incorrect in assuming that Larry Semmens is campaign manager. I have walked in parades, written letters of support and helped out in other ways but I am not a campaign manager. I respectfully request that you refrain from slinging mud at me for supporting the candidate that I believe will do the best job, which is clearly Peter Micciche. I would hope that a person doesn't give up this right simply because they work for a City. Not to worry though, in about a month the City will have a new city manager. By the way Kmarx, who are you?

Melissa 08/25/12 - 10:26 am
I have spoken with Mr.

I have spoken with Mr. Micciche on issues I am concerned with involving boards he has served on and was shocked by how I was treated. I did not agree with changes he was making and I was yelled at, ignored, and meetings times and dates were changed without public knowledge so that I would not be able to share my information. This is not the man I will be supporting. I have also had many opportunities to speak with Mr. Wagoner and have been very impressed by his commitment to the education of our students. He has always been very respectful of my opinion and when we have differed it was done respectfully so. I want someone that is honest and willing to listen.

spwright 08/26/12 - 06:55 am
Question for Both

Sun. 8/25/12

Here is a real Question for both Candidates.

With 13 $Billion Dollars$ with a B
in the Alaska Cash Reserve in Juneau.

That's NOT counting the 44 Billion in the Permanent Fund

Alaska could build it's very own natural gas pipeline & have literately Billions remaining.

WHY is that NOT Happening ?

Or we could Talk Somemore about this issue. Assign a committee to research that issue, Hire Outside Consultants
to research that issue,
Talk, Talk then Talk somemore ! for over 30 looong years
& STILL No Progress, Lets Talk about That.

Residents in Fairbanks are paying over $1000.00 per month for Heating Fuel, Villagers are tearing down old building & using that for Firewood to Keep Warm.
THAT is a EMERGENCY in my mind.

It's Time for Action. Make a Decision ! Do Something !
Oh Wait, maybe we better Talk Somemore on that issue.

SPW "Airborne"

BigRedDog 08/26/12 - 10:09 am
dark side of the moon

That someone chooses to live in Fairbanks some cost are just inheirant with the climate, heating cost is the biggy. But the facts remain that Cook Inlet gas has been available for 30 to 40 years. if the savings were there why hasn't private or State corps. built a line to supply that need! The answer is the cost to build and maintain 350 miles of 10 12 or 16" line would be so great to finance in building that the expense per household would make it very expensive to sign-on. But tapping onto the BIG GAS PIPELINE IN THE SKY would be very cost effective. That most sought after line has been in the making far to long. But what could delay such a needed project as the BGPIS?
Prudoe Bay did not have enough gas to keep the line flowing for long enough to pay for it w/o ANWR's gas. But Clinton's closing of that avenue to penalize our heavy weight Repulican senators and Reps stopped the natural and rational developement of our state and National energy policy!
Another greater concern to me is your attitude that the State or government in general owes it to Fairbanks or anyone else to provide cheaper fuel cost! What goes along with that spin is soon enough voters learn that together they can force the Gov. to do these things with the vote at the pole!! Then stands to reason the gov would then tax just who to make that posible? But if the good people of FBKS wish to vote this type of line for thier service then they should line up to pay for it. The North Pole refinery produces fuel oil and the price of that is determined someplace on the moon no doubt. Why isn't the price of that fuel oil lower for our friends in FBKS? what makes you think it would be a whole lot cheaper for Natural gas heat if cost of delivery started a little high!

Kenai 08/26/12 - 04:09 pm
Poor guy, how will his family eat?

"If elected, Micciche said he would take a “leave of absence” from his post at the LNG facility while the Legislature is in session. That means he won’t be receiving a paycheck from ConocoPhillips during that time, which he said would be a financial detriment to his family."

So he won't take a paycheck from ConocoPhillips during the 90-day session, but he will get his $54,000 legislative salary. Dividing that $54,000 over the 3 months he won't get his ConocoPhillps check is $18,000 per month.

Poor Peter is only going to make $18,000 per month for three months, before he's able to go back to his regular salary for the other 9 months (which apparently is enough more to make him feel that $18k/month is a detriment).

I don't know how his family will get by. What a sacrifice!

RedOne64 08/26/12 - 10:29 pm
Wagoner has made it work for us!!!

As a businessman Wagoner has worked to ensure that Alaska has a good business environment that looks after all Alaskans, both owners and employees, because he knows that owners need skilled employees to be efficient.
Wagoner has reached across the aisle when he believed it served the best interests of all Alaskans.
Tom Wagoner has worked hard to make sure that we had both vocational and academic training facilities here on the Kenai Peninsula to train our children for the jobs in Alaska for the last 40 plus years.
I have always found Wagoner open to discussing and exploring news ideas or approaches and then voting based on what he thought was best for all Alaskans.
I have known know Peter Micciche for over 15 years and I will be Voting for Tom Wagoner because I believe he will look out for all of us, both owners and employees.

TiredOfPoliticians 08/27/12 - 09:15 am
Micciche and Wagoner = EGOMANIACS

I agree with SPWright...I wish YOU would run for office. You make more sense than anyone on this forum.

Micciche and Wagoner are BOTH poor choices..We're better off with NO representation than to have either one of these self serving egomaniacs. I've had conversations with both and they are more similar than you think. Their political views may differ, but they are BOTH condescending, self-serving and full of hot air.

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