Stroman: State needs to get involved with community

Posted: Sunday, August 18, 2002

Unchallenged in the Aug. 27 primary election and certain of appearing on the November general election ballot, the Green Party of Alaska candidate for Senate District Q isn't expending much energy on the campaign yet.

"I'm not really pushing hard for the primary," said Thomas Stroman, who has been a resident of Kenai since 1971. He also lived on the Kenai Peninsula in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Stroman, 50, said he has worked as a commercial fisher in Cook Inlet, Bristol Bay and the Bering Sea. He currently is working part-time at Paradisos Restaurant in Kenai.

Stroman has not held public office, but he was a board member of the Cook Inlet Tribal Council from 1986 until 2001. He currently serves on the Kenai Natives Association board, which he has been on since 1986, except for one three-year stretch. He has served as president of that board twice. He also is on the board of the Central Area Rural Transportation Service. He graduated from Kenai Central High School in 1974.

Asked how he differs from the incumbent, Republican Sen. Jerry Ward of Nikiski, Stroman focused not on political differences, but on what he sees as his own familiarity with the Senate district and its constituents.

"I've lived here since the 1950s," he said. "That's most of my life. This is my home. I know a lot of the locals at different levels. They have the ability to speak with me quite easily."

Stroman said he has seen the peninsula change a great deal over the years and sees the potential for a bright future. He isn't sure what Ward sees.

"I couldn't say what Ward's experience is," he said.

Stroman said that if he were elected, he would work to get the state more involved in projects to benefit the community.

"The state needs to become more involved," he said. "I know they are not here to compete with private industry, but they could be more involved in the gas pipeline and with education."

Stroman said he favors spending money on vocational education services and said Alaska should look to the experiences of some European educational systems.

Stroman said the petroleum and fishing industries on the peninsula and in the state are in decline and lawmakers should work to diversify the economy, creating more career and business opportunities.

"I don't want my children to leave home because of a lack of work," he said.

Alaska is at a crossroads, but there are opportunities available if the state turns in the right direction, he said.

On matching state spending to revenues, Stroman said that under the right circumstances he would not rule out taxes, but he said it would likely take a combination of taxes and spending cuts to balance the books.

"There is not one pat answer," he said. "It will take a combination of things to make it work."

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