Senator Stevens receives Republican of the Year plaque from Carol Brenckle, president of the Republican Women's Club at recent Lincoln's Day dinner in Kenai.
Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is a traditional time for Republican Party faithful to gather under the banner of “Honest Abe!” to extol the accomplishments of present day Republicans in office. On the Kenai Peninsula it’s the Republican Women’s Club who sponsors the event and according to Club president Carol Brenkel it’s an exciting time for Alaskan women of the Grand Old Party, “Republican women have a lot to be proud of in Alaska, we have a woman who is a U.S. Senator, Lisa Murkowski and we also have the most popular governor in the United States right here in Alaska who is also a woman, Governor Sarah Palin, so yes Republican Woman of Alaska have a lot to brag about,” Brenkel told the Dispatch. February 15th was also the birthday of Susan B. Anthony, “She was the woman credited with leading the battle to win the right for women to vote, so we feel it is very fitting to celebrate her birthday along side of Abraham Lincoln who is credited with freeing our nation from slavery,” said Brenkel.
Brenkel was also very proud that the longest serving U.S. Senator in history, the Honorable Ted Stevens agreed to be the guest of honor for their Lincoln’s Day Dinner, “Senator Ted has done so much for all Alaskans and it was truly our privilege to have him as our guest of honor and present with our Republican of the Year Award,” she said.
Speaking to the sell out gathering at the Ted and Catherine Stevens Challenger Learning Center of Alaska, Senator Stevens recalled the multitude of changes he has witnessed during his tenure as Alaska’s Senator, “The greatest changes of course began when we were granted statehood and could then vote for the President of the United States and elect Alaskans to Congress, which made it possible to bring the Alaskan native people into our economy where now native corporations and villages contribute nearly 20% of the total income for our State. The greatest long term change was the Magnuson/Stevens Act which declared our jurisdiction to the 200 mile limit to protect the fisheries within that zone. The coast of Alaska now has the most scientifically managed fisheries in the world. Alaska has gone from being a military stop off on the way to the Pacific to being a major location of U.S. military activities for the future with three major bases in our State, becoming America’s outpost to the Pacific. Today we are leading the world in telecommunications and telemedicine and these changes have been changes that we have not only witnessed but brought about. These changes weren’t just given to us but are changes we fought and worked long and hard to see come about. And we’ve obtained them because Alaskans believe in their own future,” said Stevens, who has earned the nick name on the floor of the U.S. Senate as the “Incredible Hulk.”
Stevens proudly announced that he would be running for another term in the U.S. Senate because there were still more changes he wanted to see completed, “There are still some things that are unresolved such as our lands, we still haven’t received all the lands we were promised when we became a state because Congress has delayed our ability to select the 103 million acres that we are entitled to, and we still haven’t been able to open up the areas that I think are the most promising for future oil and gas development, ANWR in particular and of course we’re working to get a natural gas pipeline to prove that we can get that resource to market which will be the largest project in the history of the United States financed by private capital. The final licensing for that project will be a federal action, not a state action. I’ve been there to introduce these changes and want to be there when they’re completed,” said Stevens.
A highlight of the evening was when the Senator’s favorite Black Bottom Coconut pie from Charlotte’s and served by the Senator himself, was auctioned off by Dale Bagley for $600 to Dick & Stephanie Erkenoff of the Kenai River Raven Bed & Breakfast, “It was really a priceless experience to have desert with the man who has done so much for Alaska, hearing him talk about his experiences with Ronald Regan and other historic figures was like living in a history book, and the pie was fantastic,” said Erkenoff.
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