Founding member leaves 'Vote No' group

Unhappy with revised mission, Martin turns back on Save Your Dividend organization

Posted: Friday, June 09, 2000

A founding member of the Save Your Dividend Committee, resigned Monday after coming out on the losing end of a vote by the group about redefining its mission.

"I sure didn't want to resign," Ed Martin Sr. said Thursday. "But the situation, in my view, was they wanted to expand their concerns.

"The committee was put together on the permanent fund dividend issue, and that alone," he went on to say. "But there were a few members who wanted to change things around."

Bill Parrish, chair of the group, said Martin was out-voted 6-1 on whether the group should keep 'Vote No' as its main objective. Parrish said since the election is long over, the group needs a revised mission statement.

"I couldn't understand what his opposition was," Parrish said. "Basically, saving the dividend is our thing, (but) actually voting 'no' is not our message any more."

The Save Your Dividend Committee, also known as the Vote No group, organized the opposition to, and petition against, the Sept. 14 advisory vote on using a portion of the earnings of the Alaska Perma-nent Fund to pay for state government. The plan before voters also called for reducing the size of the dividend for several years before slowly building back up. Proponents called the plan a long-term fix for the state's revenue woes.

Parrish said the group sat in silence after Martin resigned and walked out after the vote.

"Everyone in the group is extremely grateful for all the hard work he did," Parrish said. "When I started the petition, I didn't know how far along it would get, but he put thousands of miles on his car and knocked on doors."

Parrish said there is no dissension on the board except for Martin.

For his part, Martin said he feels no ill will toward his former group members.

"I'm not saying the other people are bad, but their views and mine should not be represented together," he said.

While the group's message is the same -- preserving the permanent fund dividend -- Parrish said it needs fine tuning.

"Are we a candidate-locating service now? We have to decide what we are," Parrish said.

Martin said he was uncomfortable with having his name attached to a candidate endorsement if it was not based solely on the dividend question.

"I feel really strongly about that," he said. "I don't know enough about other issues as I do about the permanent fund dividend."

Martin went on to say that if the group felt strongly about other issues, it should form other groups to lobby those views.

The Save Your Dividend group has held interviews with many of the legislative candidates running on the Kenai Peninsula and has held a candidate forum, dominated by questions regarding the permanent fund and balancing the budget.

Parrish said the group probably won't make recommendations until July, as there are still some candidates who it hasn't interviewed. He said when the recommendations do come out, there may be multiple candidates in each race who get the stamp of approval from the Save Your Dividend Committee.

"We'd like to weed through them and say, 'We believe these people are sincere. They show signs of saving the dividend,'" Parrish said. "Part of the problem is reading between the lines. We've been dealing with people who were vote 'yes' people, who are now vote 'no' people because 84 percent of the public voted 'no.'"

Martin agreed.

"I will probably get behind a candidate who I feel is really sincere."

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