Editor’s note: The following opinion pieces were requested by the Clarion to offer our readers the viewpoints of those running for office in the Aug. 28 primary election.
Each candidate also received a questionnaire, the answers to which may be found here.
Today’s focus is on candidates running State House District 29, representing Kenai, Soldotna and Kalifornsky Beach.
Incumbent Kurt Olson and challenger Gary Knopp will appear on the Republican ballot. No candidates from any other party filed to run for the seat.
Each response is printed as it was received.
I think serving at the local level of government should be a prerequisite to campaigning for a position at the state level. There is no better way to learn about local issues in and around our communities. Serving with eight other assembly members from different districts of the borough keeps you aware of the issues in those districts as well. You learn about the borough’s budget, where the dollars come from, where they go, what the current needs and future needs are. The assembly creates annually a legislative priority list to take to Juneau (sometimes known as a wish list and sometimes a must have list). This list also contains all of our communities’ request for specific projects. It is this list of projects that move our communities forward in a positive manner, provides economic opportunities to contractors, retailers, and others in the business community. It is in these trips to Juneau, participation in Alaska Municipal League (AML), Alaska Conference of Mayors (ACOM) and other state and national organizations that keep local government in tune with what’s going on and what’s brewing on the horizon.
Numerous times throughout the year we correspond with our Juneau delegation where we are kept apprised of state issues that would affect our borough and us as Alaska residents. We also learn who in our Juneau delegation is working hard for our communities and who is not.
The Peninsula Clarion posed this important question to all candidates: What economic challenges does your district face? The economic challenges would affect all of the borough not just my proposed district 29 which is located in the central area.
Our economic challenge is maintaining strong, effective and proactive leadership in Juneau.
Here is how it works.
Our borough was extremely successful this year in our funding request. The reasons for this are:
* Having a very effective legislator from the northern peninsula who happens to be the Speaker of the House.
* Having a very effective Borough Mayor with a legislative background and a great friendship and working relationship with the Governor.
* Our state being blessed with a lot of revenue from high oil prices and having the monies to share with communities.
Our economic risks are:
* Not having our representative from the northern peninsula as Speaker of the House .
* Oil prices decline, production in TAPS continue to decline and a change in the oil & gas tax structure all of which will result in less revenue for the state.
* A future Borough Mayor who does not have legislative experience or a good relationship with the Governor’s office.
* Not having a hard working, proactive and effective legislator working hard to ensure when any of the above happens that the district and borough is well represented.
* Loss of our fisheries — commercial and sport — and its domino effect.
Citizens expect to have a representative who will work as hard as possible to look out for the best interest of our communities and our state as a whole.
Our State House representative has to
* Be aware of the issues,
* Be aware of the needs of the local communities,
* Be forward looking yet aware of the challenges in front of him,
* Be proactive in his approach to the issues and not adopt a ‘let’s wait and see what happens’ attitude.
I mention this for the purpose of informing the public to our real economic challenges going forward. These are challenges that we can control. Failure to obtain support from the state slows our economy or results in higher taxes.
That is why you need Gary Knopp in Juneau.