Senator responds to 'poison pen' letters

Posted: Sunday, August 25, 2002

It must be nearing the end of a primary election season. You can tell by the poison pen letters to the editor that do their best to assassinate character in the ending days of a campaign.

The Peninsula Clarion printed three such letters last Thursday, just days before the election. There is hardly time to respond to lies and distortions and although one could argue that the Clarion should not have printed last-minute hatchet jobs, it is to their credit that they agreed to let me respond.

The attacks break into three categories: private prisons, my wife's business and jeopardizing the permanent fund dividend.

First, I support privatization. Always have. I believe privatization is a boost to the local economy of a community. Voters in our community said "No" to the private prison. And as far as I'm concerned, that ends the private prison project on the peninsula. Once the voters have spoken, that's it. And incidentally, I have not received any contributions (as the letter writers assert) from anyone associated with private prisons.

Second, my wife's business, is her business. I am not involved in it. But let's set the record straight. She does property management for KNA, arranges for, and supervises, repairs and maintenance on those properties. Under her management agreement all rents to landlords and utility companies are current. Any other business transactions that have taken place between KNA and other business entities has nothing to do with my wife's real estate property management contract. My wife works hard at her job and I am proud of her achievements. You can beat me up, but leave my family out of it.

Finally, it is total fantasy for the letter writers to claim that I am jeopardizing the permanent fund, or that my policies would lead to "imminent danger of having income taxes reinstated." What hogwash! It's the big lie and totally opposite of the truth. I take a backseat to no one advocating for and supporting the permanent fund. I have said from one end of the peninsula to the other that I will not support touching one nickel of the permanent fund. Never, ever, period. That is the people's legacy, that the people created and is off limits as far as I'm concerned.

In the last legislative session I opposed the effort by some to start a state income tax. I believe we can protect essential state services such as education, transportation and public safety. And I am committed to doing so, but there is a huge amount of money spent, and sometimes wasted, on other government functions that can be cut. We should do so. I will continue down that path. It makes no sense to me to protect the permanent fund with one hand and take that money away through an income tax with the other.

As to the constitutional budget reserve, estimates are that anywhere from 3 to 5 years worth of reserves are left. I am hopeful that a new Murkowski administration will get the state moving again so we can start producing budget surpluses to fund a lean and efficient government rather than relying on the failed policies of raiding our savings. I look forward to working with a Governor Murkowski to bring that about. Not the truth of the spiteful smear and distortion but the truth of someone trying to do the best he can for the residents of the Kenai Peninsula. I take pride in representing you and am grateful for the trust you have placed in me.

Sen. Jerry Ward is running for re-election to the new Senate District Q seat.

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