Two issues pushed Anchor Point resident Doug Ruzicka to seek public office, he said. The move to tap the Alaska Permanent Fund to pay for government was one -- he definitely is opposed.
The other was Homer's petition seeking to annex 25 square miles of surrounding territory. If elected, he would vote against that annexation, should it make it to the Legislature next year. But Ruzicka said he would go even further.
"I would introduce legislation to repeal the legislative review process (one of five annexation procedures)," he said. "That may give folks against annexation some injunctive power."
He said he would introduce a bill to disapprove any recommendation from the Local Boundary Commission to permit the annexation. If that fails, he said, he would introduce a bill to begin the process of detaching the newly annexed area from the city.
"Even though we have a law that supports annexation, the majority of people in the annexation area are against it, and there is no clear indication there is a majority within the city limits that supports it, either," he said. "If people don't get a vote, I'm against it. I see this as nothing but a revenue grab."
Ruzicka, 44, has lived on the Kenai Peninsula since 1992 and makes his living as a small business owner and part-time custodian for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.
Name: Doug Ruzicka
Office: House of Representatives, District 7
Occupation: Small business owner, custodian
Family: Married to Debbie since 1977, 5 children, Starr, Ben, Will, Mark, Rebekah
Education: Two years of college
Special Interests: Dog mushing
Previously held office: None
Expected Cost of Campaign: Unknown
Best Way for Voters to Reach Me: www.dougruzicka.com
He said he has been voting since he was 18 years old.
"I know what I like in a representative, and I know what I don't like," he said. "Being an informed voter is the best qualification (for elected office) you can have."
Statewide, the most important issue facing Alaska is the threat to the permanent fund posed by lawmakers' desire to use it to fund state government. Last September's "no" vote on its use for that purpose should have given lawmakers a clue.
"The no vote takes the permanent fund off the table for legislators to consider ... at least for several years," he said.
What's needed is cost-cutting, especially when it comes to expensive higher-level positions.
"We are extremely top-heavy in administration in this state," he said.
Ruzicka said he would vote for the proposed statewide 10-mill property tax cap "because I believe money is there to balance the budget if we had some kind of prioritized spending policy." He predicted victory at the ballot box for the cap.
"People ... want to tell the Legislature you are not going to get any more money until you demonstrate sound management policies," he said.
Ruzicka did not say what government services he was prepared to give up to shave costs, but he did list things that must be funded: roads, schools, law enforcement and corrections -- "things needed to make government function."
Working as a school custodian, Ruzicka said, he sees firsthand the dedication and hard work of teachers and school principals. He gives those employees an A+.
"I have problems from there on up," he said. "Too much money is being sucked out of education" by administration. Cutting back on administration would save money, perhaps enough to retain the more experienced teachers that now are being encouraged to take early retirement because they cost too much.
Solving the subsistence problem requires taking the rural preference out of the Alaska National Interests Lands Claims Act or amending the Alaska Constitution to allow for one, Ruzicka said. As for the peninsula's rural designation, he said the area has retained much of its rural flavor.
To be effective, a lawmaker must be ready to do the will of his constituents, Ruzicka said.
"When I hear a legislator say he is going to vote his conscience, I want to run from that person," he said. "This person has accepted the responsibility to be a representative for the people in his district. Why is his conscience more important than what the people want done?"
Ruzicka allowed that a good representative must have standards, but said his are embodied in the text of the constitution. He said he could envision individual conscience and majority will coming into conflict. If that happens, he will be guided by the constitution, he said.
If that doesn't sit well with voters, he said, "They can send me down the road at the ballot box."
Ruzicka said he wants people to know that he is "just a simple person and dedicated to what I'm telling people I believe in."
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