District 33 draws full slate of hopefuls

Posted: Wednesday, August 18, 2004

When Rep. Kelly Wolf announced earlier this summer that he would not seek re-election to the seat from House District 33, he opened the door for the quartet of Republican hopefuls seeking to replace him.

Kurt E. Olson of Soldotna, John G. "Ozzie" Osborne Sr. of Kenai, Melva W. "Mel" Krogseng of Soldotna and David L. "Dave" Richards of Soldotna are the Republican choices in Tuesday's primary.

The winner will face Harold V. "Hal" Smalley of Soldotna, the lone Democrat in the primary, come the general election Nov. 2.

As in other Kenai Peninsula state races covered this week, issues center on jobs, the economy, the need for a gas pipeline, excessive government spending, opposing taxes and keeping state hands off the Alaska Permanent Fund earnings.

And, like other Republican primary candidates, those seeking the House District 33 seat differ on the issues mostly by degree.

Olson recently quit his job as aide to Sen. Tom Wagoner in order to run for office. He previously had worked for a year as an aide to former Sen. John Torgerson. He also has served two years on the Soldotna City Council. He has been a commercial insurance broker, a custom seafood processor, managed a lodge and worked as a guide. He has been a board member of the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce and the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and has served for eight years as a member of the Central Emergency Services Board.

Osborne, a retired machinist, served for six months on the Kenai City Council in 2003 when he was appointed to replace Duane Bannock, who took a job with the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles. Osborne also served about eight years on the Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission.

Richards is owner of Kenai River Charters and Lodging. He has not held elected office before, but ran for the same House seat in 2002.

Krogseng is a retired registered nurse and owner of Krog's Kamp. She is a retired U.S. Air Force officer. She has experience in Juneau, but not as an elected official. She worked as an aide to House Speaker Ramona Barnes and in the administration of Gov. Walter Hickel.

Smalley is a retired schoolteacher who spent one term in the Alaska House, serving from 1998 through 2000 as the representative from what was then District 8, before being defeated by Rep. Mike Chenault. Redistricting redefined the election districts and Smalley and Chenault are no longer in the same district.

Smalley served 10 years on the Kenai City Council and has chaired the Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission. He has been a board member of the Alaska Municipal League.

Smalley opposes a statewide sales tax and an income tax at this time. He has argued that Alaska is too dependent on its income from the oil industry and favors enhancing timber, mining and fishing. Alaska needs a long-range fiscal plan to avoid the kinds of deficit budgets that have occurred under Republican Legislatures, he said.

Olson, Richards, Osborne and Krogseng are in agreement that Alaska doesn't need an income or a statewide sales tax, nor does it need to tap the permanent fund earnings. Rich-ards, however, said it seemed appropriate that Alaskans pay for the services they use and cited the gasoline tax as an example.

Olson said education funding could be increased. Others took only slightly different tacks. Osborne suggested more attention be focused on vocational education. Rich-ards said he thought education was being funded adequately at this time, but that more should be demanded of students, teachers and administrators. Krogseng has said education, and perhaps other programs mandated by the Alaska Constitution, should be funded and then taken out of consideration as lawmakers debate spending on other things.

All the candidates painted a picture of optimism regarding the district's future. Richards said he'd like to see the government get out of trying to run the economy, while Olson said the peninsula's three-legged stool of oil, fishing and tourism all needed to be healthy.

Krogseng said she hoped the economy would be stable and looked to the advent of the proposed gas line as a stabilizing factor. She also said she hoped the northern end of the peninsula would be opened to development.

Osborne, on the other hand, predicted the economy staying pretty much as it is for the near future.

Columns by the candidates can be found on page A-4, while profiles are printed on page A-8 in today's Clarion.

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