Cooper Landing man files for District 8 seat

Posted: Tuesday, May 23, 2000

Lifelong Cooper Landing resident Larry Smith has joined the crowded field in the race for State House District 8.

Smith also has joined the other Republicans in the race in calling for constitutional protection of the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend.

"The Alaska Permanent Fund is an investment savings account that belongs to present and future generations of Alaskans; it belongs to the people," Smith wrote in a statement. "I support proposed amendments to the constitution of the state of Alaska to guarantee your permanent fund dividend, to provide for inflation proofing, and to require a vote of the people before changing the statutory formula for distribution."

However, Smith said in a telephone interview he has a much broader vision for his platform than just the dividend.

"One main focus is to solve our fiscal gap," he said. "I'll work hard at that to find new revenue sources, perhaps through natural resources."

Besides his stance on the dividend, Smith also hits several other hot-topic buttons to Republicans.

"The Alaska Legislature must actively support the opening of ANWR for oil exploration and development," he wrote.

He said later that now would be a good time to press for development of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

"It needs action by the Congress, and with fuel prices so high, we can get the attention of consumers in the Lower 48 who could lobby their own legislators," he said.

Smith also is big on logging.

"I also advocate logging, especially beetle-infested spruce that threatens all of us with its potential for catastrophic wildfire," he said.

Smith, owner of D&L Construction, also calls for federal road dollars to be spent on road maintenance.

"The state of Alaska spends hundreds of millions of federal transportation dollars every year to construct roads throughout Alaska. However, these dollars can only be used for construction -- not maintenance," his statement reads. "Paving the Denali Highway and the road to Whittier is not the best use of $60 million-plus. I will work diligently to see that transportation dollars are spent more efficiently to benefit all Alaskans."

Smith went on to say one of his top priorities will be to improve road maintenance.

"If you drive down the highway and hit the same bump for 10 years in a row, putting up a sign that says 'bump' is not maintenance," he said.

Smith also is in favor of promoting tourism and protecting fishing industries, and he supports the construction of a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to Cook Inlet.

Smith and his wife, Cindy, have three children in area schools; Michelle is a sophomore at Skyview, while Matthew and Mikala are fifth- and seventh-graders, respectively, at Cooper Landing School.

He faces a crowded field in his race to represent District 8. The other candidates he will face in the Aug. 22 Republican primary include Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member Grace Merkes of Sterling, Soldotna Mayor Ken Lancaster and Carolyn Reynolds of Soldotna.

If Smith makes it through the primary, he will face the lone Democrat in the race, Kenai Penin-sula Borough Assembly member Pete Sprague, of Soldotna. The District 8 seat, which serves Soldotna, Sterling, Cooper Landing, Hope, Moose Pass and Seward, is being vacated by Rep. Gary Davis, R-Soldotna.

"I've got to tell you that one of the reasons I'm running is that in 22 years of being active in the Republican Party, I never see any of these other candidates at Republican gatherings until recently," Smith said.

"I suspect Grace Merkes and Ken Lancaster are just opportunists who feel, as I do, that District 8 is a Republican district."

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