Editor’s note: This is the second of five opinion columns the Clarion will run from the front-runners in the gubernatorial race for the primary election on Aug. 22.
In recent years, Alaskans have grown weary of the ethical lapses and weakened standards associated with our government. We have an abundance of natural resources and talented citizens, but a scarcity of confidence and trust in our leadership. That is the only thing standing in the way of Alaska’s bright future.
I have been blessed to travel often during this campaign and speak with the many Alaskans who stand ready to affect positive change for this state. You have expressed your desire for a more responsive government and say you have had enough of broken promises and broken trust. It is these kinds of sentiments that motivated me to run for governor and I couldn’t be more excited to take on the challenge.
Restoring trust in government can be achieved through honest leadership. As governor, I will lead by example and expect the same of my commissioners and executive staff. I recognize that the majority of state employees are dedicated and loyal professionals. Their image should not be tainted due to the unscrupulous actions of a few.
A governor will be asked to make thousands of decisions over a four-year term; the decision-making process must be based on a strong ethical foundation. In other words, the public must trust that the governor is acting in their best interest at all times. Together we can accomplish great things for Alaska if we set priorities and commit to an action plan based on clear motives.
My priorities include the following:
· Getting a gas pipeline built, in a timely manner, that benefits all Alaskans
· Developing a fiscal plan that will eliminate irresponsible spending
· Creating an effective and accountable education system for all students
· Building and improving roads, harbors and airports
· Creating good-paying jobs through the development of our resources
· Protecting our individual rights and freedoms to hunt and fish
· Helping those in greatest need and unable to care for themselves
· Keeping our communities safe
Before any of these goals can be achieved, my administration must set the proper tone. Alaskans need to know where their leaders stand. For this reason, I recently presented my plan to raise the standard of ethics in government. It is based on conversations I’ve had with thousands of Alaskans over the last year.
My goal is to re-establish trust in government by raising the standards for ethical guidelines and by keeping the public informed. You will see in this outline and in more detail on my website that my approach to ethics is different than any you’ve seen. Why? Because it involves action.
My ethics plan will include the following steps:
· Implement meaningful conflict-of-interest reform through legislation
· Require all commissioners and senior staff to attend comprehensive ethics training within two weeks of hire
· Not accept gifts of any level from lobbyists
· Eliminate the open checkbook for political hires
· Limit state travel to official business
· Strictly enforce anti-nepotism rules
· Appoint board and commission members who will represent the interests of all Alaskans not just special interests
· Post the state checkbook on the Internet
· Post the state budget on the Internet for public review and comment prior to submitting it to the legislature
· Post public official financial disclosure statements on the Internet
· Require electronic filing of political campaign financial reports
· Restrict commissioners and the governor’s senior staff from lobbying for two years after they leave state employment
Though not everyone will agree with the decisions I make as governor, at least we can all agree those decisions should be made based on clear ethical guidelines. It is time to eliminate ambiguities in current law and raise the standards.
Moving Alaska forward will be made that much easier if the public has confidence and trust in their government. I am committed to earning that trust and working hard every day to keep it.
John Binkley is the former co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, former chairman of the Alaska Railroad Corporation and a longtime small businessman.
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