Protecting Alaska’s Financial Future
Unlike many of my colleagues, I am 100% committed to balancing our budget. We all know that Alaska’s financial health is inextricably linked to the oil industry. We must manage it wisely to avoid another fiscal crisis. I am proud to have contributed to the passage of Senate Bill 26, which simultaneously created protections for the Permanent Fund and reduced the state deficit from $2.5 billion to $700 million.
The past year’s Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) was the largest on record – and it was within the recommended 5% payout limit. Going forward we must be disciplined about excess spending, or we’ll have to curb funding for basic services for things like airports, roads, State Troopers, and public schools. I remain confident if we govern from the middle, rather than the extremes, we can support Alaskan households and sustain the Permanent Fund for future generations.
Supporting Our Public Schools
As a certified teacher and husband of a second-grade teacher at Anchor Lutheran, I am unconditionally dedicated to public education. We must do more to strengthen Alaska schools; the success of our kids impacts us all.
During my time as a state representative, I have been a staunch supporter of the University of Alaska system. I would propose that we build a top notch liberal arts program at UA, so that students can stay here and pay affordable tuition.
I support the creation of a universal pre-K program, but at a faster pace than the Alaska Reads Acts mandates. For K-12, I have proposed legislation to expand the school year to 190 days, with a shorter summer and more breaks during the course of study. Teacher pay should be adjusted for the additional time. I also support returning to defined benefits (pensions) for teachers, in order to incentivize recruitment and retention.
Without county income, the State pays close to 90% of the entire expense of our public education. Resources are scarce. I fully support private school options – especially as the husband of a parochial school teacher – but it cannot be at the expense of our public system. We cannot further jeopardize the future of the majority of Alaskan children by taking resources away for private school vouchers.
Securing Public Safety
I am proud to be the only candidate in this race who has earned the support of Anchorage first responders, including police and firefighters. That’s because I am tough on crime. During my time as a state prosecutor in the Kotzebue office, I had jurisdiction over all crimes spanning eleven villages and covering an area the size of Indiana, making sure that domestic violence and sexual assault offenders were prosecuted.
I believe in the concepts of redemption and reform, but we must invest adequately in rehabilitation and re-entry programs for them to work. We must build-out our capacity at treatment centers before we ever begin reducing criminal sentencing statutes. I vehemently opposed Senate Bill 91, and I led the fight to repeal that dangerous legislation, making our community safer.
Promoting Responsible Development
Alaska’s identity is built on the richness of our natural resources and cultural heritage, but protecting these things does not and cannot preclude our economic development. Alaskan communities and businesses can work together and – through responsible development practices – build sustainable infrastructure, create jobs, and protect our wildlife while continuing to bring our resources to market.
I am clear-eyed about the existential threat of climate change, but also optimistic about our ability to find solutions. Alaska can lead the way in showing the world that this is possible. I am in favor of exploring more renewable forms of energy, and common-sense legislative adjustments to curb waste. I oppose off-shore drilling that could irreparably damage our coastline, but accept that the oil industry is a central part of our economy that we must support. I have faith that taking a measured, informed approach to this challenge is the only way forward.
Defending Personal Freedoms
Alaskans have always treasured individual freedoms, and we will continue to do so in the face of opposition at the federal level. I reject the efforts of extremists to limit the rights of people that do not conform to their own narrow world-view. I am pro-choice; women’s personal healthcare choices should remain private, and not subject to the whims of the government.
I have been the most vocal and progressive member of the House in supporting the LGBTQ+ community, and have had the most success in moving bills aimed at ensuring their equal rights out of committee. In 2015, I offered a constitutional amendment resolution that would ask voters to the repeal the ban on same sex marriage, and will continue to protect and defend equal rights for all Alaskans.