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Our top choices for peninsula's legislative seats

House District 9

Posted: Friday, November 03, 2000

Vote Hal Smalley.

Smalley, who is just finishing his first term as a legislator, deserves to go back to Juneau. As one of his constituents recently told him: "... you don't fire someone who is doing a good job."

Republican Mike Chenault and Republican Moderate James Price have been worthy opponents. They both, however, could use more experience in public office. While Chenault's expertise in private business could be put to good use in the Legislature, he should, at a minimum, finish out his term on the Kenai Peninsula Borough school board before seeking higher office. Price, who has no experience in public office, has used his campaign to raise questions about "politics as usual." His positions favoring the tax cap and hemp initiatives, however, are irresponsible and are reason enough to not take his candidacy seriously.

Smalley, a Democrat, has shown his ability to work across party lines to get things accomplished for Alaskans. His years of municipal experience, his background as an educator and the completion of his first term in the House combine to make him the strongest candidate for the job.

Senate District E

Vote Mike Szymanski.

Whether you see incumbent Sen. Jerry Ward as a man of principles or an obstructionist will determine how you vote in this race.

We take the latter view. It's one thing to have principles; it's another thing to alienate a vast number of people in standing by those principles. Unfortunately, Sen. Ward's attitude seems to be: If you don't agree with me, you're wrong. The most glaring example is his refusal to let Alaskans vote on resolving the subsistence issue.

Ward's maverick style can be appealing on the surface, but it's ineffective in getting things accomplished. In fact, it always gives him an easy out. He can rail against the governor or members of the Republican Majority, which ever best suits his purpose, when things don't go his way. He, of course, never has to take any blame because he's standing by his principles -- or sticking out like a sore thumb, depending on one's perspective.

What's particularly troublesome is that Ward has been excluded by other peninsula legislators on issues of importance to the peninsula -- including seeking a fisheries disaster declaration for the area from the governor. That doesn't serve the peninsula well.

Szymanski, a former legislator, was right to target his strength and Ward's weakness -- the ability to work with

others -- in his campaign. Like it or not, the Legislature needs to function as a team in getting things accomplished for the good of all Alaskans. All members of the team don't -- and shouldn't -- hold the same views, but it's imperative they respect different ideas and not contribute to the divisiveness plaguing politics today.

Our hope is Szymanski will use his considerable skills in working with others across party lines and consensus building to accomplish much for District E. Our one regret is that there is not a Kenai Peninsula resident running for this office.

HEAD:Sprague will be voice for working men and women of District 8

While the voters in District 8 have the rather unique opportunity of choosing between two decent candidates, I do believe there is a clear choice. Pete Sprague is neither a businessman nor politician. As he has stated throughout his campaign, he is a public servant. And having been acquainted with Pete for several years I know this to be the case.

Pete is in this race for no other reason than that he believes he can make a difference. He will be beholding to no special interest group or agenda, truly a voice for the working men and women of this district.

While his views on furthering education are widely known, it should also be pointed out that Pete is committed to preserving the permanent fund, and that in his time on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly he voted to cut the general tax rate and to protect critical habitat along our rivers and streams.

Certainly both candidates should be commended for running such a clean race and sticking to the issues. However, if the people of District 8 want someone who will go to Juneau with a mind toward change, someone they can trust to be an advocate for each and every Alaskan, they should vote for Pete Sprague. I know him to be an upright, honest and caring individual -- something we desperately need more of in government.

Dave Atcheson

Sterling

Industrial hemp products would

help diversify Alaska's economy

I'm a lifelong Alaska resident as in CIRI shareholder, Kasilof dipnetter and taxpayer for the Kenai Peninsula Borough as well as the Municipality of Anchorage. Here are several reasons why I'm supporting the effort to legalize industrial hemp in Alaska.

As a landholder on the Kenai Peninsula, I would like the opportunity to replace the bark beetle infested standing timber with industrial hemp. Curiously, we've heard nothing from the state of Alaska Department of Natural Resources regarding this potentially viable replacement for the bark beetle infestation throughout the Kenai Peninsula. Why?

Alaska is blessed with abundant resources, the mineral resource wealth and the renewables such as timber, fishing and tourism. Add another renewable resource to further diversify our economic wealth here in Alaska, the versatility of industrial hemp products!

I encourage Alaskans to consider the opportunity to grow a new industry here in Alaska and give hemp a chance. Vote "yes" on Proposition 5.

Georgia L. Mario

Chugiak

Alaskans need to make sure their

voting choices reflect their values

Not too long ago I read with growing incredulity the newspaper account of a man who wanted to go on a ballot as a candidate to represent part of the Kenai Peninsula. He went to great lengths to convince a judge that he was, indeed, involved in an illicit relationship with a woman to whom he was not married. She resides in one voting district; therefore, he should qualify as a resident of that district, not in the area where he has a home. And he had the grocery receipts to prove it.

What is this, I asked myself, have I stumbled into Bizarro World? Aren't we still healing from a situation where the top politician of the land was willing to commit perjury if it would convince another judge that he wasn't involved in an illicit relationship -- in spite of evidence to the contrary? That man advised the woman in question to "deny, deny, deny," but in our Bizarro World version, this woman appeared willing to support the claim!

She explained that in their arrangement, she paid the bills and he bought the groceries. No, his name doesn't appear on the condo purchase agreement, she said, because at this stage (of life) both of them have a lot to lose. Presumably, she meant if someone wanted out of the "relationship." Sounded like someone didn't trust someone. Unless they eat a lot of food, that's not exactly a 50-50 split. (My immediate take was, hey, if she doesn't trust him, why should we?)

Haven't we had enough of leaders who thumb their noses at convention and indulge in liaisons considered immoral by most of the voting public? Even the couples I know who enjoy the physical benefits without the legal responsibility of marriage say they plan to marry some day -- suggesting this somehow turns a "wrong" relationship into something "OK" if not exactly "right." Is this the sort of easy-in, easy-out unfettered approach we want modeled before our young people? I don't think so.

As individuals and a society, we need to connect the dots between the problems we have and the choices we've made. When adults tell young people to "live right and do right," then insist on making their own rules of conduct for themselves, inner conflict is set up.

We adults need to make better choices. The societal course correction must begin with us. With every senseless act of violence by youth, the number grows of professionals who recognize there is a moral shift taking place in America, and it's somehow connected to attitudes toward others -- in other words, respect. Instead of looking for places to blame, like guns and economics, it's going to take men and women who are willing to step up to the plate and lead by example.

Beginning right now, let's resolve to think about the bigger picture when we make choices in our personal lives and also when we vote next week. I think we can do better.

Sherry Innes

33 year resident of the Kenai Peninsula

and mother of three

Legislative candidates have been on the stump for months; now it's time for voters to take what they've heard, read and digested and make some hard decisions.

Before ballots are marked on Tuesday, voters need to answer for themselves this question: Which candidate will make the most effective legislator?

Here's how we've answered that question for Kenai Peninsula legislative seats:

House District 7

Vote Drew Scalzi.

Scalzi brings with him a variety of experience: eight years on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, three years on the International Pacific Halibut Commission, three years on the Alaska Coastal Policy Council and two terms on the borough's road service area board. That experience gives Scalzi the edge over his opponent, Amy Bollenbach, who has spent much of her campaign blasting the Legislature's Republican Majority.

Scalzi's background in local government issues, plus his knowledge of Alaska's fisheries are needed in the Legislature.

His will be a fresh, but not a naive, voice.

House District 8

Vote Ken Lancaster.

All voters in the state should be as lucky as those in District 8. Soldotna Mayor Lancaster, the Republican candidate, and Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member Pete Sprague, the Democratic candidate, stand on sound records of public service. They're consensus builders. They're hard workers. They don't thump their chests to make their accomplishments known. We can't imagine that either of them would ever be an embarrassment to their constituents.

Lancaster has the edge over Sprague in at least two ways, however.

First, Lancaster's legislative priorities are in order. His emphasis is on a long-range budget plan for the state; Sprague's is on education. No doubt education is critical -- we'd rank it at No. 2 -- but until the state gets its finances straightened out, it will be difficult to implement long-range solutions to other problems, no matter how thoughtful one's vision.

Second, Sprague is still in his first term on the assembly. He should complete at least one full-term of local office before moving on. Right now, his talents are best put to use by serving peninsula residents on the assembly.

Lancaster's experience in local government, with Homer Electric Association, in private business and as a lifelong Alaskan give him an extensive network to draw on and make him the right person at the right time for this legislative seat.

District 9

Vote Hal Smalley.

Smalley, who is just finishing his first term as a legislator, deserves to go back to Juneau. As one of his constituents recently told him: "... you don't fire someone who is doing a good job."

Republican Mike Chenault and Republican Moderate James Price have been worthy opponents. They both, however, could use more experience in public office. While Chenault's expertise in private business could be put to good use in the Legislature, he should, at a minimum, finish out his term on the Kenai Peninsula Borough school board before seeking higher office. Price, who has no experience in public office, has used his campaign to raise questions about "politics as usual." His positions favoring the tax cap and hemp initiatives, however, are irresponsible and are reason enough to not take his candidacy seriously.

Smalley, a Democrat, has shown his ability to work across party lines to get things accomplished for Alaskans. His years of municipal experience, his background as an educator and the completion of his first term in the House combine to make him the strongest candidate for the job.

Senate District E

Vote Mike Szymanski.

Whether you see incumbent Sen. Jerry Ward as a man of principles or an obstructionist will determine how you vote in this race.

We take the latter view. It's one thing to have principles; it's another thing to alienate a vast number of people in standing by those principles. Unfortunately, Sen. Ward delights in alienating people. His attitude is: If you don't agree with me, you're wrong. The most glaring example is his refusal to let Alaskans vote on resolving the subsistence issue.

Ward's maverick style can be appealing on the surface, but it's ineffective in getting things accomplished. In fact, it always gives him an easy out. He can rail against the governor or members of the Republican Majority, which ever best suits his purpose, when things don't go his way. He, of course, never has to take any blame because he's standing by his principles -- or sticking out like a sore thumb, depending on one's perspective.

What's particularly troublesome is that Ward has been excluded by other peninsula legislators on issues of importance to the peninsula -- including seeking a fisheries disaster declaration from the governor. That doesn't serve the peninsula well.

Szymanski, a former legislator, was right to target his strength and Ward's weakness -- the ability to work with others -- in his campaign. Like it or not, the Legislature needs to function as a team in getting things accomplished for the good of all Alaskans. All members of the team don't -- and shouldn't -- hold the same views, but it's imperative they respect different ideas and not contribute to the divisiveness plaguing politics today.

Our hope is Szymanski will use his considerable skills in working with others across party lines and consensus building to accomplish much for District E. Our one regret is that there is not a Kenai Peninsula resident running for this office.



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