In primary, some local seats hot, some not

Race for District 33 crowded while others run unopposed

Posted: Friday, August 18, 2006

Tuesday, central Kenai Peninsula voters will go to the polls to choose House District 33 candidates for November’s general election ballot.

This year has seen the Republican contest turn into a real race.

Incumbent Rep. Kurt Olson, R-Soldotna, faces two competitors in his bid for a second term representing residents of the Kenai, Soldotna and Kalifornsky areas. They are Soldotna Mayor Dave R. Carey and Soldotna resident and business owner David L. Richards.

Also a contest is the race for the Alaskan Independence Party nod between John G. Osborne, of Kenai, and Robert A. Pope, of Soldotna.

Here is a quick look at the candidates.

Dave Carey, Republican

Carey, a long-time high school social studies teacher, adjunct faculty member of the University of Alaska-Anchorage’s Soldotna campus and wrestling coach, is likely the more widely known of Olson’s challengers.

Born in Washington state in 1952, Carey has lived in Alaska since 1961. He has served on various fire and emergency service area boards, spent three terms on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly and held a seat on the Soldotna City Council before becoming the city’s mayor.

Among other positions, Carey has served 18 years on the Homer Electric Association Board of Directors, including three terms as its president, and is president of the Soldotna Catholic Church Parish Council. He was vice president of the Host Society of the 2006 Arctic Winter Games.

Carey said he believes in limited government and opposes the current level of government spending as well as “unwarranted” taxes and unfunded mandates.

“If government cannot walk the walk by providing funds, it should not talk the talk by imposing regulations,” he said recently.

Carey supports two-year funding for education, promoting alternative energy sources, ethics reform and campaign spending limited to salary. He supports a 90-day session, with a 30-day recess in the middle of it to allow lawmakers to visit with constituents.

“That’s an important part of allowing legislators to be more in touch with the people,” Carey said this week.

On the results of the recent legislative special session, Carey said lawmakers had “absolutely caved in” on an oil and gas tax measure, likely because so many were tired of being in Juneau. Now that a tax bill is passed and the state is predicting $1 billion to $1.5 billion more in revenues, Carey wants the Legislature to consider a moratorium on certain fees paid by Alaskans, such as on studded tires, business licenses, hunting, fishing and guiding licenses and automobile registration. Such a move would be a kind of profits-tax dividend, he said.

David L. Richards, Republican

Olson’s other Republican primary opponent, Dave Richards, has been a Soldotna resident since 1981. He is the owner of a fishing guide service, Kenai River Charters and Lodging.

Richards has not served in public office before, but was a primary candidate in 2004 and in 2002. He says he is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association.

In a recent interview, Richards said he opposes big government, which has too many rules, too many laws and spends too much money.

Richards backs a 90-day legislative session, opening ANWR and moving the Legislature to Anchorage.

On Thursday, Richards said he would like to see a death-penalty bill placed on the state ballot.

He called the recent special session a “ridiculous waste of time” and said that an oil and gas tax bill should have been passed during the regular session. He said he did not know enough about the bill to render an opinion on its provisions, but did say he wants to see a gas pipeline built.

Richards said he is a hard-core conservative who is willing to trim government spending, and that he is ready to hear from residents of District 33.

Rep. Kurt Olson, Republican

Elected in November 2004, Olson has co-chaired the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee and is a member of the House Resources Committee.

Prior to his election to state office, Olson served two years on the Soldotna City Council, and eight years on the Central Emergency Services board.

Olson was born in Sacramento, Calif., in 1948, and has lived in Alaska since 1977, and on the Kenai Peninsula since 1982. He has lived in Soldotna since 1995. He has a bachelor of arts degree from California State University.

He said recently he wants another term in office “so I can complete work on the largest issue to face the Legislature since statehood — the natural gas pipeline.”

Monday, Olson said he was pleased with the outcome of the vote on a new petroleum profits tax bill.

“It was a compromise, but we took the best of the Senate (version) and the best of the House. The bill will generate a fair amount of income to the state, and at the same time encourage development on the North Slope.

Olson said that at today’s oil prices, the state would receive about $2 billion more than the Economic Limitation Factor would have produced over the next 12 months.

He said lawmakers are planning on requesting a quarterly audit that would compare the new tax structure to ELF so lawmakers can track the efficacy of the new tax plan.

The other contested race on the District 33 primary ballot features two Alaskan Independence Party hopefuls, John G. “Ozzie” Osborne, of Kenai, and Robert A. “Bob” Pope, of Soldotna.

John Osborne, Alaskan Independence Party

Osborne is a retired machinist. His political experience includes a six-month stint on the Kenai City Council in 2003 when was appointed to fill a vacancy. He served about eight years on the Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission.

Once a Republican, Osborne said he joined the Alaska Independence Party after concluding the Republican Party was no longer “altogether in tune with the public anymore.”

“I’m running because I don’t feel our current representative is doing us justice,” he said.

On Aug. 14, Osborne commented on the recent effort by lawmakers to address natural gas pipeline issues.

“It seems like they wasted an awful lot of time with the special session taking care of the gas line bill,” he said.

Robert Pope, Alaskan Independence Party

Pope, 46, was born in Fairbanks and now lives in Soldotna. He has worked as an aircraft technician, a plumber, electrician and a carpenter.

Pope believes Juneau needs a new generation of lawmakers.

“I’m tired of all the stuffed-shirt politicians and broken promises. I’m an honest guy and a hardworking guy,” he said in a June interview.

Pope says Alaskans must have access to a future natural gas pipeline. He also backs his party’s proposal for a constitutional amendment abolishing taxes in Alaska. Pope said he thinks Alaska property owners should have full subsurface rights to their property. Currently, most subsurface rights are retained by the state.

Regarding the recent special session where lawmakers passed a petroleum profits tax bill, Pope said he believes the governor and the oil companies pressured legislators into signing on to a tax scheme that may not be in the best interest of Alaska.

“They should not have done that in an election year,” he said. “It was a political move and I don’t feel it was fair. People did it under duress, and many of us feel it sold us out and gave it away.”

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