Full field of candidates for District E voters

Posted: Thursday, August 17, 2000

There is no lack of candidates to represent Kenai, Nikiski and South Anchorage in the Senate.

Two Republicans, three Democrats and a Green Party candidate are vying to represent District E.

For the Republican nomination, Brad Brown of Anchorage, a retired Alaska State Trooper, has challenged incumbent Sen. Jerry Ward, an Anchorage real estate worker.

Competing for the Democratic nomination are former Sen. Mike Szymanski of Anchorage, business manager for a commercial fishing company; Kurt Melvin of Nikiski, a carpet and vinyl installer and owner of Kenai Bargain Barn; and R. Michael Allegrucci of Anchorage. Through Wednesday, Allegrucci had provided no biographical information to the Clarion or the Division of Elections and reported zero campaign contributions and zero expenditures to the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

The ringer is Green Party candidate William D. Bartee of Anchorage, a retired Anchorage Telephone Utility worker, who said he filed simply to promote the Green Party and to put its name on the ballot.

"If you send me to Juneau, I will hold it against you," he said.

Bartee called campaign finance reform the state's most pressing issue. He favored universal state-funded health care and preservation of the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend program.

Ward put developing Alaska's natural resources at the top of his list. He said he opposed the proposal last year to use permanent fund earnings to help fund state government. He argued for solving the state's budget problems by consolidating agencies, privatizing government services, developing natural resources and restoring the timber and commercial fishing industries.

"The only way we're going to do that is to overrule an administration that's controlled by extreme environmentalists," he said.

Brown said public safety tops his agenda. He favored more funding for troopers and schools, but said he has not yet determined where to find the money.

He opposed capping permanent fund dividends, favored responsible logging and suggested cutting management to put more workers on the front lines. He said the Legislature should spend less time in Juneau and more time holding workshops in communities to brainstorm the issues.

Melvin called himself a working man willing to work for the people. He said more should be done for children and questioned how the Legislature can grant itself pay raises and cut funding for education.

He favors protecting the permanent fund from government encroachment and finding a solution to Alaska's subsistence dilemma.

Szymanski said he wants something better than the partisan bickering that has stymied the Legislature, and cited his reputation for building consensus. He said "there's almost an anti-commercial-fishing composition" on the Board of Fisheries and called for balanced.

Subsistence and long-term fiscal planning topped his priorities. He favored finding new sources of revenue and criticized the Legislature's recent "meat-axe" approach to cutting the budget.

"I supported the "no" vote on reducing the permanent fund dividend," he said, but added that the state must find long-term fiscal solutions.

For a subsistence solution, he said he favors allowing the people to vote whether to amend the Alaska Constitution, which gives all Alaskans equal access to fish and game, to bring it into line with federal law, which requires a rural preference for subsistence. Ward, by contrast, said he opposes any constitutional amendment that would create two classes of citizens.

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