Mary Kailukiak fishes for tomcod and smoalt on the Bering Sea Saturday, Jan. 18 near Toksook Bay. The first Americans to be counted in the 2020 Census starting today live in this Bering Sea coastal village. The Census traditionally begins earlier in Alaska than the rest of the nation because frozen ground allows easier access for Census workers, and rural Alaska will scatter with the spring thaw to traditional hunting and fishing grounds. (AP Photo | Gregory Bull)

Mary Kailukiak fishes for tomcod and smoalt on the Bering Sea Saturday, Jan. 18 near Toksook Bay. The first Americans to be counted in the 2020 Census starting today live in this Bering Sea coastal village. The Census traditionally begins earlier in Alaska than the rest of the nation because frozen ground allows easier access for Census workers, and rural Alaska will scatter with the spring thaw to traditional hunting and fishing grounds. (AP Photo | Gregory Bull)

Opinion: Be counted in the Census, Remembering King, Don’t dismiss Alaska’s energy workers

Letters to the Editor.

Alaskans: Be counted in the Census

The League of Women Voters of Alaska encourages all residents of Alaska to make sure that they are counted in the 2020 Census.

An accurate count is necessary for Alaska to receive its fair share of $675 billion in federal funding. Alaska depends upon federal funding to balance its budget, and currently that funding makes up 21.8% of the Alaskan GDP. This funding is used to build and repair infrastructure, support health, education and nutrition services, fund public safety efforts, and many other important government activities.

In addition, an accurate count helps insure an accurate redistricting of Alaska’s political districts. House Districts are established by dividing the state’s population, as determined by the decennial census, by 40, so that they each comprise approximately an equal number of residents. If some areas of the state are undercounted, then districts in those areas might be lost due to this undercounting and residents left under-represented.

Census 2020 officially begins today in Tooksok Bay. Tooksok Bay represents the unique challenge of counting residents in a state with no road system outside major cities, where there are many cultures and languages and a unique geography separating far-flung communities. April 1st is Census Day, and by this time everyone should have received an invitation via mail or hand-delivered by a Census worker to be counted in the Census. There are three ways to respond: online, by mail and by phone.

All residents of Alaska should be aware of the importance of this Census and reach out to others who may be struggling or confused about the process. You can learn more at these websites: alaskacounts.org; 2020census.gov; and thecensusproject.org.

Make it one of your top priorities to assist those that need help to be counted, from the newborn to the eldest, regardless of length of residency. The Census is a process that occurs once every 10 years, but it affects us for the 10 years in between. We owe it to ourselves and our neighbors and loved ones to get it right.

Judith Andree,

President of League of Women Voters of Alaska

Remembering King

Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day once again, and I can’t help thinking, as I always do, of his extraordinary eloquence in speaking the truth, his powerful role as a leader of the civil rights movement, and the damning irony of his being killed a year to the day after publicly coming out against war in his unforgettable speech, “Beyond Vietnam.”

Remembrance of King, for me, is heavy with sorrow for the many people who gave their lives to make the promises implicit in our Constitution real: promises of justice and equality under the law, of the ability of citizens to speak truth to power, and of the terrible cost.

One look around at our involvement in undeclared wars across the world; the stark realities of inner-city poverty and our out-sized prison population, in which minorities are inordinately represented; and our back-sliding on issues like a healthy environment and equal access to the courts, a good education, and adequate health care, is enough to assure me that the work King championed, and died for, is far from over. I dare those who doubt me to listen to his words in “Beyond Vietnam” and how pertinent they still are.

Jamison Paul,

Juneau

Alaska Legislature: Don’t dismiss Alaska’s energy workers

Alaska’s annual Legislative session begins today. While the 20-member Senate and 40-member House are debating a wide range of legislation over the next 90 days, Power The Future would like to remind them of the jobs, lives and families impacted by the responsible resource development that goes on in our state daily.

Not only does the energy community provide living wages for over one-third of Alaska’s private-sector employees, but it provides the vast majority of the income generated for the state’s general fund.

Any efforts to negatively impact those jobs should be immediately scrapped. With Alaska’s position as the state with the highest unemployment in the nation, putting jobs at risk from industries that are economic and employment cornerstones for our state would be bad business.

Power The Future thanks the 60 citizen legislators who have chosen to lead. We look forward to being a resource for any of them during the session. Alaska’s energy future is bright – as long as the voices challenging that bright future are dismissed.

Rick Whitbeck,

Alaska State Director for Power The Future

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