District Q: Looking at the record

Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Jerry Ward

District Q


This has been one of the nastiest campaigns I have ever seen on the Kenai Peninsula. Mudslinging galore. And most of it aimed at me.

It is important to note that I have a legislative record. My opponent doesn't. My record is fair game, but rather than attack it, he and his friends choose to attack me personally. Not one word about how he would have done things differently if he had been in Juneau. Instead, just personal attacks.

That's just not right!

I know that I'm a fairly conservative guy, and I take a conservative approach to lawmaking. I believe less government is better and that we shouldn't be dipping into people's pockets through income or sales taxes unless, and until, it is absolutely necessary to fund core government services. If my opponent disagrees with that then he should say so. Instead what he says is that he is undecided about the need for a new state sales tax. I'm not; I'm opposed to it.

I take pride in the fact that my campaign has not responded to sleazy mudslinging with still more mud. I have chosen the high road. I believe that's what most of us who live on the peninsula deserve. And make no mistake about it, I am a resident of the Kenai Peninsula borough. I lived in Kenai years ago, and my children went to school here. More recently, I represented much of the peninsula for the last five years. Less than one-half of my Senate district was in south Anchorage, as well. When the new Senate district lines were drawn, I chose to continue representing the peninsula and moved my home to Nikiski.

I live where I do because I identify with the style of life and attitudes of this area, and that is what makes me a peninsula resident -- notwithstanding cheap campaign slogans from my opponent challenging my residency. I was born in Alaska and choose to live on the Kenai Peninsula.

And what about the real issues? The last Legislature came within inches of tapping the permanent fund, thereby possibly lowering the dividend you receive and imposing a state income tax on your paycheck to boot. I am proud to say that I was one of the few that stood up and said no!

There is a big debate going on about state government's need for more revenue. On the one hand, there is the group that says the sky is falling because we only have three to five years of reserves left. Reserves to shovel into the state's annual operating budget deficit. That camp argues that we should use our permanent fund dividend money and a state income tax or sales tax to maintain, and even increase, state spending.

The other approach, which Republican governor candidate Frank Murkowski, has argued for, is to continue to cut all but core government services while encouraging and working with industry to develop fisheries, oil and gas, timber and mining properties.

His approach, and mine, is to seek more revenue by growing the economy rather than government. I believe that is the kind of can-do attitude that Alaska needs. We have always been a hardworking, willing and optimistic people. We should encourage those qualities by using the treasures of our great state to assure a strong economy, which, in turn, will allow us to spend money for those necessary services that government should provide.

That is my approach to legislating. If that is something you agree with, then I would appreciate your vote and support.

Tom Wagoner

District Q

Republican Moderate


Tom Wagoner

My pledge to the voters of Senate District Q: My pledge is simple, identify services we want, identify their costs and then allow resource economic expansion to take place to get the funds to provide those services. In addition to the growth of resource-based economic expansion, we must look for other economic opportunities to shore up our economy over the long haul. This would involve the development of businesses in service and manufacturing areas.

There are several opportunities facing us at the current time. First, and probably most important, is the natural gas line. I feel it is time for the Legislature to stop arguing about the route the gas line follows and start demanding that the line be built. Any construction of this line is going to cause the economic stimulus we so desperately need.

Second is the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I am fully supportive of this project and plan to do whatever is necessary to get this project approved at the federal level.

The most important thing for this district is the creation of an economic stimulus philosophy to allow drilling and production of marginal fields in the Cook Inlet Basin. This is our bread and butter at the time. We must find a way to encourage drilling for smaller pockets of oil and gas that are appealing to the Cook Inlet producers and will at the same time benefit our service-based industries in this area.

Most people want government services. They want to make sure that the services are efficient and cost effective. Most of us do not want to pay taxes and we want to be able to continue to receive our permanent fund dividend check. I'm like most of you, I don't like to pay taxes, I want my state government to run efficiently, and I want to continue to receive my PFD check.

We must stress the need for a fairer share of the allotted educational funds for peninsula schools. We currently receive no consideration for funding of smaller schools that are far more expensive to operate than our larger schools. This lack of recognition by the state of our peninsula's more rural schools places an unfair burden on students attending school in our more urban areas since their funds are reduced so adequate educational services can be provided in our smaller rural schools. The funding formula must be applied to our peninsula schools to reflect our need to support rural units in our school district.

Two highway projects that must be completed for this district are the Cooper Landing by-pass and the Seldovia River Bridge. The peninsula should not wait any longer for these projects to be completed. I will see that they are finished ASAP.

I'd also like to set the record on my residency straight and head off any rumors about my involvement in the group that is running ads against my opponent. I am not involved -- period.

The local radio spin-doctoring that goes on has me as a nonresident, which is an outright laughable tactic when you consider my opponent's residency situation. For the record, I have owned an 800-square foot condominium in Palm Springs for 18 years. I rent it out to people who like to vacation there and take from four- to six- weeks vacation myself when possible.

Certainly the radio personalities aren't suggesting that people not be allowed to own a rental unit or take a vacation are they? After all, I only own one house and it's here on the peninsula.

I recently was personally attacked in the "Letters to the Editor," where it was suggested by Mr. Steve Vanek of Ninilchik that I have been duped somehow by Gov. Knowles.

Again, let's set the record straight. I'm afraid that Mr. Vanek has been duped about who in fact is the peninsula's senator.

Steve, your senator was and still is John Torgerson. The peninsula's senator for the past eight years is Sen. John Torgerson.

You can credit the peninsula's capital projects to John. You can credit the graveled-to-paved road improvements to John. You can credit the added school funding from Senate Bill 36 to John. The fact of the matter is that he has worked hard for the peninsula. Shame on you for trying to discredit John's record of accomplishments as your senator.

In closing, my wife, Dorothy, and I have lived on the Kenai Peninsula for 33 years. We have raised our children here. One of our daughters and her husband are raising our two grandchildren here on the peninsula. I look forward to serving you in Juneau, and if you have any questions please call me at 283-4930.

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