Amy Bollenbach says she believes Democrats can win back control of Alaska's Legislature over the next two elections and she intends to be part of that trend in November.
Bollenbach, 64, has lived in Alaska since 1962 and on the Kenai Peninsula since 1993. She lives on Kachemak Drive near Homer. She is a widow with one grown son.
She is the only Democrat in the House District 7 race and will face the winner of the Aug. 22 Republican primary. She said she believes her vision of Alaska's future is stronger than that of her potential opponents and that if elected, she will focus her legislative efforts on research, conservation and education.
While her Republican opponents have said they would vote against Homer's annexation effort, Bollenbach has not made up her mind.
"I think the process was flawed," she said. The public should have been invited to comment much earlier in the process, she added. "I don't have the knowledge to know if it should be withdrawn or not."
Homer is not entirely to blame, she said.
Name: Amy Bollenbach
Office: Legislator, State House, District 7
Occupation: Retired teacherelementary, secondary, college.
Family: Husband, Burt Bollenbach, scientist, deceased; Son, Jamie Bollenbach, artist
Education: Indiana University, BA; University of Alaska, Anchorage, MS; post graduate work, University of London.
Organizations: Kachemak Heritage Land Trust, Hospice, and the Pratt Museum. I also support Forward USA and other organizations that promote freedom and justice for all people.
Interests: Birding, writing and sculpture.
Previously held elected office and experience: chair Southcentral Democratic Convention, 1972; delegate to 1972 National Democratic Convention; political activist in Anchorage for 30 years in childrens rights, civil rights and womens rights. I received the Soroptomist Women Helping Women Award in 1982 for promoting equality of education for women in Alaska.
Expected cost of campaign: $50,000
What is the best way for voters to reach you? Phone: 235-9640
Mail: PO Box 3429, Homer, Alaska, 99603.
"This mess was partly caused by the Legi-slature, which has been slashing municipal funds for years." Homer has not done anything illegal. "Municipalities do have a right to annex."
If it reaches the Legislature, she said, she would decide how to vote only after researching the Alaska Constitution and all the documents presented to lawmakers.
Finding a fair solution to the subsistence impasse is the most important issue facing the state, she said. The Alaska Legislature has squandered opportunities to resolve the issue, and subsistence fishing and hunting on federal lands are now under federal management. She favors a public vote to amend the Alaska Constitution to give rural subsistence users preference in times of shortage. Whether that will work now is an open question. Legislative inaction has angered many Alaska Natives, some of whom now prefer federal management, she said.
"When problems aren't solved in a timely manner, they get worse," she said. "Perhaps we have to start again negotiating with the Native peoples and the federal government."
Another critical issue is the state budget, Bollenbach said. Last fall's "no" vote made it clear the public didn't want lawmakers tapping the Alaska Permanent Fund earnings to fund state government.
"I voted with the public because it would hurt people with low or fixed incomes," she said. "These people often depend on the permanent fund dividend to get through the winter."
To balance the state budget, Bollenbach said, she supports returning to a separate accounting method of determining tax income of the oil and gas produced in the state. She said such a system used in the early 1980s was better for Alaska than the current method.
Next, she said taxes can offer a kind of carrot-and-stick approach to promoting good citizenship. The Kenai Peninsula Borough's program that gives tax breaks to Kenai River property owners for preserving river habitat, and conservation easements that can lower property and estate taxes are examples of such carrots.
"These programs reward good citizenship, and we need to expand on that concept," she said. Activities and substances that harm people and society, she said, such as polluting or alcohol and tobacco should be heavily taxed, she said.
She advocates an income tax where revenues would go to education, she said.
She will vote against the statewide 10-mill tax cap, believing it would take tax revenue away from local government where it belongs. The educational systems in California and Oregon were "severely damaged" by similar measures in the past, she said.
Alaska's educational system deserves a C grade, Bollenbach said. A major improvement would be mandating class sizes no larger than 18 students in grades K-3 to give youngsters a better handle on the basics.
"Four large, long-term studies have shown that children have better math and reading scores in those class sizes," she said. That will cost money, but the results will be worth the cost, she said.
Bollenbach said a good lawmaker is one who cares, listens and is willing to be creative and to lead. She must be a consensus-builder.
"I'm only one person. I can't promise something will get done, but I can promise to work toward a goal," she said.
Bollenbach said she will listen to her constituents, but is ready to "vote my conscience if there were a clear difference between the majority and my conscience."
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