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Arness: Legislature should be more transparent to citizens

Senate District N - Republican

Posted: August 23, 2012 - 8:45am  |  Updated: August 23, 2012 - 8:57am

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 here.

Today’s focus is on candidates running State Senate District N, representing the northern portions of the Kenai Peninsula, including Nikiski, Sterling, Cooper Landing, and the eastern portion, from Hope to Seward, as well as Turnagain Arm and south Anchorage. 

Incumbent Cathy Giessel and challenger Joe Arness will appear on the Republican ballot. No candidates from a political party filed to run for the seat. An independent candidate, Ron Devon,  will appear on the general election ballot but is not on the primary ballot. 

Each response is printed as it was received. Giessel did not submit an opinion piece.


Representing an area as diverse and geographically enormous as the new Senate District N will be a challenging prospect for anyone. I believe I’m the man for the job. I have spent the last 20 + years representing the geographically enormous and diverse Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. The lessons that I’ve learned through those years, I believe, will serve me well while I am in Juneau.

Probably the biggest lesson I have learned is that other people have valid and legitimate concerns and opinions. I do not have to be aligned with someone in order to listen to their point of view and take it into honest consideration. I have learned that I can find myself in the minority on individual issues and not be offended by that situation. I have learned that it is ok to be sensitive to the needs of an individual community and to deal with those needs as well as possible even if the needs of the larger community take precedence.

Along the way I have come to respect and appreciate the guidelines found in the Open Meetings Act. I absolutely believe that the State Legislature should also operate by those guidelines. I understand very clearly that it is much easier to accomplish the resolution of problems if you can do it behind closed doors. That approach, however, leaves the citizens of the State with no opportunity to observe and evaluate their representatives in a meaningful way. Irrespective of what the organization of the Senate is after this election, I will do my best to see to it that the business of the Legislature is exposed to the light of day and not be transacted in caucuses with those outcomes being only staged for public consumption.

The other tenet that I have observed is that at the base of it all, we are all generally united in one over-riding thought. That being that we want our State to be economically stable with a tremendous respect for our environment and a vision to make the future better for our children than it was for us. Of course, we may all have a different vision of how to achieve those goals…and in the end that is the primary role of the State Legislature; to determine the best path to follow to find our way to that end. We can be too friendly to business or we can be too devoted to the environment and we will not find a balance. I believe that such a balance does exist and will work to find it. Finding it will, in fact, make Alaska a better place for our children.

In my opinion, the past Legislative Session was a travesty and a black eye in the history of Alaska. Some of that was party politics and some of it was sheer exercise of power by individuals in positions of power. Opening that process, removing the “veto” power of committee chairman and demanding a discourse from our representatives which includes all views will help to improve the product delivered by the State of Alaska.

I am dedicated to working to achieve those goals.  

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