Frustrated over fisheries legislation, Homer resident and long-time fisher Paul Seaton decided to challenge Rep. Drew Scalzi in the Republic primary in the race for House District 35.
Several fisheries bills sponsored by the incumbent had "inherent flaws" that made them poor policy for fishers, especially fishers in District 35, he said, adding that the incumbent has worked on allocations to split up the existing pie, while he has worked to make the pie bigger.
"Drew and I have different philosophies on fisheries," he said. "I've looked at expanding the pie and the opportunities for fishermen."
Seaton said he would try to avoid allocation battles by expanding the availability of fish through various conservation measures. Seaton said he and the incumbent also differ over guideline harvests and individual fishing quotas for charter boats.
But it was House Bill 206, a bill that opened the way for corporations to own limited entry permits in the Bering Sea fisheries for Korean hair crab and weathervane scallops that finally pushed him to run. It put a system in place he thinks may well result in litigation.
"I don't think people will let corporate ownership take place without a court challenge," he said.
Seaton also said several other measures sponsored by Scalzi were ill-conceived, including House Bill 284, that would have softened conflict-of-interest rules for Board of Fish members (it did not pass), House Bill 286, a 5 percent gross fish sales assessment aimed at consolidating permits, and House Bill 288, another measure Seaton said would tax fishers in order to retire permits already effectively retired by not being fished.
On social issues, Seaton sees himself as more liberal than some of the more conservative elements of the Republican Party.
"I'm a conservative Republican who believes the government should be out of our lives as much as possible," he said. "Personal and medical decisions are to be left to the people."
Seaton opposed a change in the Republican platform aimed at abortion that said Republicans believe in the sanctity of life from "conception to natural death."
"I pointed out that that wasn't well thought through," he said. "It says the Republican Party is opposed to capital punishment, because capital punishment is not natural death. We need to be very careful with those things."
He said he would oppose initiatives that would result in laws that would violate federal law.
"Don't we have enough examples of that working?" he said, referring to the subsistence issue.
Seaton said the Republican Party should "have a big tent," and work toward broad consensus on secular issues.
"We need to figure out what issues we are really trying to address as a party and what we want to address in our churches."
Seaton said he would focus on education funding and promote vocational education.
He said he would vote to move the Legislature from Juneau to Southcentral Alaska.
He said Alaska needs to raise income through taxes, and favors an income tax equal to 10 percent of the federal tax. He opposes a statewide sales tax and use of the Permanent Fund earnings.
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