It is my great blessing to call Alaska my home since my family moved here in 1961. In addition to being “The Last Frontier,” I consider Alaska to be God’s country both literally and figuratively. I run for the State House because I believe the rights and needs of the people of Alaska have been corroded away by neglect for the maintenance and upkeep of our constitutional rights and privileges. The recent “discovery” of the corrosion and neglect for the feeder lines of the Alaska Pipeline speaks to the importance of reducing corrosion and promoting healthy maintenance.
It is time for a change. This includes less taken from the pockets of citizens beginning in 2007, shorter and more open legislative sessions by 2008, stabilization of education funding by 2009, elimination of unfunded mandates by 2010 and moving legislative sessions to Kenai by 2011. We need to make time work for us instead of us working all the time for government.
My first priority on the topic of “change” is to stop the Legislature from “nickeling and diming” citizens and local governments with unneeded fees and oppressive regulations. The State is always reaching into our pockets for more money. We need to eliminate the state “fee” on studded tires, business licenses and recreational activity permits for all Alaskan residents. Until the price of gasoline paid at the pump comes down and Exxon pays for the damages they caused, Alaskans should not pay these “gross” fees. Being oil-rich should “net” Alaskans some financial relief. This is my goal for 2007.
By 2008, the Legislature should meet for no more than 90 days. There should be a required 30-Day recess in the middle of the session to allow legislators and staff to reconnect with their families, their communities and their values. The 121-Day sessions now being held are corrosive to the mental health of the legislators and the net results of their work prove it. Good people are going to Juneau, but 121 days of being locked up together, isolated with lobbyists away from their families is wrong.
By 2009, the Legislature should enact 2-Year Funding of Education. Education funding should be determined in the odd, non-election years, so that educational needs can be addressed on their own without all other legislation being held captive. Students, parents, educators are also being held hostage by the senseless yearly requirement that they pay homage to the Legislature and beg for funding. It is humiliating and a waste of taxpayers’ resources.
By 2010, the Legislature must have a long-term budget and vision which fairly distributes fiscal obligations and privileges without unfunded mandates. If the Legislature is going to require a program, the program must be fully funded by the state. If you talk the talk, you must walk the walk. Senior citizen property tax exemptions are deserved but must be fully funded by the State, which requires them, since it reduces Borough and municipal revenue. The State should consider local governments a partner not a possession to be used, abused or disregarded.
Finally, I would like to see the Legislature meet in Kenai by 2011. The current building is too closed and the location is often unreachable. Kenai has Native culture, Russian heritage, fishing, oil platforms, industry and tourism. Kenai has a great first class airport, is on the road system and would promote needed public participation. Leave the Governor, Judiciary and Capital in Juneau.
Kenai has been neglected by the State for more than a decade and deserves respect. It took five years to plan and complete the 2006 Arctic Winter Games. Now is the time for our next great 5-year legacy.
The taxpayers and children of Alaska deserve better government than we have been receiving. As a candidate for the 25th Alaska Legislature, I wish to offer my vision and efforts to assist in the maintenance, upkeep and development of the sovereign Alaska we need during the 21st Century. Alaska still includes hundreds of small villages and cities without sewer, water, decent roads, local law enforcement or economic opportunity. Even in the more populated areas such as Kenai, Soldotna and Kasilof, there are significant concerns regarding appropriate school funding, quality of roads, water standards and future economic sustainability. I believe the people of Alaska want our oil wealth spent fairly, the processes of the Legislature opened up to public participation and a renewed spirit of hope for the future which is as large as Alaska.
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