Drew Scalzi said he knew Alaska was home the day he arrived from Outside.
"I didn't even think about turning around," he said. "Alaska has done so much for me."
A commercial fisher by trade, Scalzi, 48, has lived in Alaska for 25 years and near Homer for 23. He currently lives on Diamond Ridge. He is married with two grown children.
A desire to "give something back" led to public office, first as a road service area board member, and then as a Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member, where he has served continuously since 1992 as the representative of Assembly District 9. He believes he has the wherewithal to be an effective member of the Alaska House of Representatives -- good decision-making skills and a sense of fair play, he said.
Name: Drew Scalzi
Office for which you are running: House District 7
Occupation: Commercial Fishing
Family: wife Barbara, son Lucas, 20, daughter Lacey, 18
Education: graduated Boca Raton High School, attended 2 years college, no
Organizations and special interests: KPB Assembly 8 years, International
Pacific Halibut Commission 3 years,
Previously held elected office and experience: 8th year KPB Assembly
member, 3 years United States Commissioner on the International Pacific Halibut Commission, 3 years Alaska Coastal Policy Council, 2 terms KPB Road Service Area Board.
Expected cost of your campaign: $25,000
What is the best way for voters to reach you? phone 235-6359 fax 235-4278 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
"My experience has established that I have these qualities," he said.
If elected and eventually presented with a Local Boundary Commission recommendation to adopt Homer's current annexation proposal, Scalzi said he would vote against it. It is too large an area, he said.
He could, however, support a smaller annexation, he added.
"Annexation is what cities do," he said. "It's a normal, legal process. You have to be realistic."
Scalzi noted two borough ordinances of which he is particularly proud. The first created habitat protection for the Kenai River, protections that now are being extended to other peninsula rivers and streams. The other was the flat property tax on boats, which led many fishing vessel owners to base their boats in peninsula ports. It has been "good for Homer, Seward and the Kenai area," he said.
Scalzi, considered a moderate on the political spectrum, said the absence of a long-term fiscal plan is the most important issue facing the state. Republican efforts to cut state spending have been successful, but that's not enough to secure a healthy economic future, he said.
"It's like a home budget. You don't just go day to day. You try to plan ahead," he said.
Scalzi said he would explore income and sales taxes and user fees, and Alaska Permanent Fund earnings as sources of revenue. The results of the last year's advisory vote on tapping the fund to cover government costs revealed a strong mistrust of government, Scalzi said. But the permanent fund was created to help pay for state government once oil revenues declined, he said, and it should still be regarded that way.
"If I had the ability to write up a long-term plan I would look at the Hammond Plan, which takes up to 20 percent of the earnings," said Scalzi, who added he would not touch the fund's principal.
Also a vital state interest, he said, is protection of Alaska's natural resources. Fish and wildlife are among Alaska's most important assets, he said.
He said he will vote against the proposed 10-mill tax cap initiative. Property taxes are an important tool by which governments raise revenues to pay for services.
"If you hinder that ability, it will shift the burden elsewhere, to sales taxes or to cuts in services," he said. "It will adversely affect the Kenai Peninsula."
Alaska's educational systems get fair marks from Scalzi. He gave the K-12 primary school program, which his own children have gone through, a B-, acknowledging that tight budgets have been problematic. He gives the university system a B+. He intends, he said, to work toward forward funding of education, so that the education budget does not become a pawn in the endgame each legislative session.
When it comes to the subsistence conundrum, Scalzi said he believes Alaska should control its own destiny. The state should work hard to end federal control.
"If I could implement a plan, it would be for a strong personal-use plan separate from subsistence," he said. "True subsistence means you're living off the land, not just a right to get fish based on where you live. But personal use, everybody should have a right to that, even an urbanite. The conflict is on the rural versus urban classification."
Scalzi said he would have voted in favor of a ballot question on changing the Alaska Constitution to add a rural definition.
Building trust and maintaining one's integrity are crucial to becoming an effective lawmaker, Scalzi said, adding he hopes to be able to convince fellow legislators by the power of argument. He does not like the practice of holding bills hostage or trading votes.
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