A sign points voters toward an election center during the May special primary election. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

A sign points voters toward an election center during the May special primary election. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Candidates answer questions ahead of election

Responses from gubernatorial, House and Senate candidates.

With only a few days until the primary election, all of the candidates won’t be able to answer all of the people’s questions.

But in the interest of answering some of the most important ones to Alaskans a questionnaire by the Juneau Empire seeking provide an overview of their stances was sent to viable contenders in the U.S. House, U.S. Senate and Alaska governor races. Six identical questions were sent for each race and the responses received are unedited.

Because the questionnaires were sent this week giving candidates limited time to respond, select answers from questionnaires published by other media outlets are also provided with links to the full questionnaires provided.

Spools of “I Voted” stickers await Alaskans during a recent election. Tuesday is election day in the ranked special general election that will decide who fills the remainder of Don Young’s term in the U.S. House of Representatives. It is also the date of pick-one primary to determine which four candidates will advance to a general election in races for governor and lieutenant governor, the U.S. Senate, the state House, the state Senate and a full term in the U.S. House. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Spools of “I Voted” stickers await Alaskans during a recent election. Tuesday is election day in the ranked special general election that will decide who fills the remainder of Don Young’s term in the U.S. House of Representatives. It is also the date of pick-one primary to determine which four candidates will advance to a general election in races for governor and lieutenant governor, the U.S. Senate, the state House, the state Senate and a full term in the U.S. House. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

U.S. HOUSE

Candidates included

Nick Begich III (R)

Sarah Palin (R)

Mary Peltola (D)

Name three pieces of legislation you would like to introduce and why

Nick Begich III:

1. The EPA’s overly broad interpretation of its authority under the Clean Air Act has resulted in a dramatic slowdown in the exploration for and development of new domestic sources of energy. While the Supreme Court has recently determined that the EPA has exceeded its Congressional authority in this respect, Congress must work to explicitly prohibit federal agencies from using CO2 impact statements as a determinant for project approvals. Failing to address this issue sends jobs and economic benefits to foreign nations with no such requirements, and places our national security in the hands of foreign adversaries.

2. We must introduce legislation that will allow greater access to rural areas of Alaska through roads, rail, and ports. The resources necessary for our nation and our state’s prosperity are abundant within Alaska, but are often stranded as a result of underinvestment in Alaskan infrastructure. Legislation should provide for streamlined right-of-way access through Federal lands and supportive access reform that will allow Alaskans to unlock the incredible potential of our state.

3. National leaders across the political spectrum have recognized the need for accelerated development of domestic sources of critical minerals, rare earths, and base metals as well as the need for increased domestic processing capacity. However, little has been done to meaningfully accelerate the development of these projects. Too often, Federal permitting

Sarah Palin:

No response received

Mary Peltola:

No response received

Name at least one significant positive achievement by the opposing political party during the past two years

Nick Begich III:

Working in a bipartisan manner, Congress recognized the importance of a unified response to the unfolding crisis in Ukraine. Economic pressure was levied to ensure that the people of Ukraine were provided with the necessary resources to defend their right to self-determination.

Sarah Palin:

No response received

Mary Peltola:

No response received

What are your thoughts about the FBI’s raid of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home?

Nick Begich III:

The search warrant executed on the residence of a former president is unprecedented in our nation’s history. Given the level of division within our nation and the erosion of public trust in our nation’s institutions, the Justice department should take immediate action to ensure that the public is informed as to the justification for such a warrant. Any attempt by members of one political party to unduly direct the justice system against political figures of another party should be of grave concern to any American, regardless of their personal political beliefs. Justice must be applied equally to all, and only through full transparency may jurisprudential confidence be preserved.

Sarah Palin:

From prepared statement earlier this week: “I was outraged but not surprised to learn that the FBI has raided President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago residence,” she wrote. “The political establishment is so threatened by the America First movement that they will stop at nothing, including weaponizing law enforcement agencies for partisan purposes, to protect their stranglehold on power. President Trump is the target of yet another partisan witch hunt, but these third-world tactics will not deter him – or me – from fighting to Drain the Swamp and return control of government to the people where it belongs. There MUST be assurance in our country that all are equal under the law. We’ve heard for years of potential illegalities in the liberal politicians’ camp — just one ‘for instance’ is all of Hunter Biden’s shenanigans and how President Biden may be compromised. Other obvious examples include Hillary Clinton’s untoward acts. Yet nary a step is taken towards justice for America on that end.”

Mary Peltola:

No response received

What is your assessment of the amount of federal funding and its designations for Alaska obtained during the past two years, and your thoughts on the roles the current congressional delegation played in obtaining the funds? What are your thoughts and priorities for seeking future federal funds for the state?

Nick Begich III:

As a Congress, we have a sacred responsibility to ensure that funds deployed to infrastructure are invested wisely and in ways that produce a clear and compelling return to the American taxpayer. We must be careful to ensure that such investments do not distort the real economy, displace pre-existing priorities by reprioritizing limited sources of labor or materials, and consider a maintenance model that sustains the initial investment over its useful life. As a supporter of hard infrastructure investments, I believe we must continue to prioritize funding that will allow Alaska to deliver on its important national roles, including food security through our fisheries, national security, energy security, and minerals security.

Did you support impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump (and would you support further hearings to determine his eligibility to run for future office), and would you support similar investigative hearings against Joe Biden and/or members of his administration? Explain your reasons.

Nick Begich III:

No; I did not support impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. The Biden administration’s actions with respect to the chaotic and mismanaged withdrawal from Afghanistan, failure to address surging illegal migration at the U.S.’ most southern border, and prior or existing relationships with Ukrainian energy providers and Chinese private equity funds are each worthy of Congressional investigation.

Sarah Palin:

No response received

Mary Peltola:

No response received

How would you work with the Canadian government to improve the conditions of transboundary waters?

Nick Begich III:

Transboundary waters are managed by the International Joint Commission, a special inter-governmental working group between the United States and Canada, and involve lakes and river waterways that are shared between our nations. These waters include all waterway boundaries in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and across to the Eastern Seaboard. This commission addresses a number of issues related to water quality, pipelines, shipping, fish habitat, hydroelectric potential, and more. Congress must work through this institution as an inter-governmental working group to ensure that water entering or leaving our respective nations remains clean, that fish populations remain robust, and international commerce is not unreasonably impeded.

Sarah Palin:

No response received

Mary Peltola:

No response received

Alaska has the highest health care costs in the nation. What will you do to reduce costs and improve access to services? (From the Alaska Beacon)

Nick Begich III:

No response received

Sarah Palin:

We need to get government out of the health care industry. All government does is get between patients and their doctors, resulting in higher costs, longer wait times, and reduced quality of service. Doctors spend too much of their time making sure they’re complying with byzantine government regulations and jumping through hoops with government bureaucrats and insurance companies. We need to let the free market do what it does – incentive the highest quality service at the lowest possible price.

Mary Peltola:

Everyone deserves quality healthcare. I will protect Medicaid expansion and work to strengthen the Affordable Care Act for middle-class families. I support a public option and increased flexibility of federal dollars to empower state, local, and Tribal governments with innovative healthcare solutions.

What steps should Congress take to balance Alaska’s status as an oil state with the need to address climate change? (From the Alaska Beacon)

Nick Begich III:

No response received

Sarah Palin:

Drill, baby, drill! Alaskans know better than anyone how to develop our God-given natural resources responsibly and ethically. We don’t need the federal government telling us what to do or how to do it.

Mary Peltola:

Alaska’s economy is heavily dependent on oil extraction, but our future is in renewable energy. For every dollar we invest in short term non renewable fossil fuel development, we need to invest 10 times that amount in long-term renewable energy resources. Alaska is a world leader in development and operation of microgrids and we have an abundance of renewable energy resources with wind, solar, hydro and tidal. We need to tap into these resources now to ensure our future energy needs are met while reducing our carbon footprint.

U.S. SENATE

Candidates included

Patricia Chesbro (D)

Shoshana Gungurstein (I)

Lisa Murkowski (R)

Kelly Tshibaka (R)

Name three pieces of legislation you would like to introduce and why

Pat Chesbro:

No response received

Shoshana Gungurstein:

1. A True Inflation Reduction Bill- This bill will address several aspects driving inflation. Balance the budget and stop the excessive spending. Bring down inflation by requiring 1% or more of federal budget cuts per year adjusted for inflation— let’s keep reducing federal budgets until we are no longer in perpetual deficit spending. This will require shared sacrifice from everybody including corporations that receive numerous subsidies. Alaska should receive a higher percentage of total federal funding than currently received because roughly 60% of our land is federal, but the overall federal budget should be reduced. In addition, we must address energy, housing, and food costs— the biggest drivers of inflation in Alaska and the rest of the country. We can also achieve this in part by modernizing the current Merchant Marine (Jones) Act of 1920. The current law helps US ship builders and crew members and that is great, and we can modernize it so that Alaska, Puerto Rico and Hawaii can be exempt. Alternatively, propose a partial exemption for shipment of food and fuel so that shipping costs to Alaska aren’t so high and people all over the state don’t have to pay astronomical prices for basic food staples, fuel, and building material.

2. Term Limits- I strongly advocate for a maximum of 3 terms for Senators. I see public service akin to military service, one serves the country and the state for a duration of time and then must pass the baton. Focus must be on solving issues and not on re-election agendas.

3. Regulating Big Tech- I stand for privacy, liberty and freedom including online privacy. Regulating online data mining and information collection to dissuade poaching Americans’ private information— thwarting threats to national cybersecurity. Technology platforms must not control the flow of information, employ directional algorithms to mislead the public, silence voices, and only augment voices of those that align with the platform agenda influencing their ability to reach an audience. I will work towards enhancing responsible regulatory oversight to protect our state and nation from the abuse of Big Tech power and uphold our fundamental rights.

Lisa Murkowski:

No response received

Kelly Tshibaka:

1. P.U.R.E. Permitting. I will pursue legislation to ensure Predictable, Understandable, Reliable, and Equitable (P.U.R.E.) federal permitting process. Without certainty in our permitting procedures, businesses cannot adequately plan for the future. This includes expediting the permitting process for mining by stopping the federal government from handicapping our sovereignty and state’s right to responsibly develop our own resources. This is designed to revitalize our economy, our energy and resource industries, and job creation.

2. Protect Alaska’s Tourism Industry. I will introduce legislation to permanently exempt cruises transporting passengers between Alaska and the Lower 48 from the provisions of the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA), sometimes referred to as the Jones Act, that require the cruise boats to stop in Canada. We can never again risk a devastation of our tourism industry because of the policies of Canada.

3. Equal Footing Law. Alaska entered into statehood on “equal footing,” but never has been given the same infrastructure investments as other states. I would like to introduce a bill for guaranteed funding for critical infrastructure, like the Alaska Marine Highway System, a road out of Juneau, and the King Cove Road.

Name at least one significant positive achievement by the opposing political party during the past two years

Pat Chesbro:

No response received

Shoshana Gungurstein:

I am independent, nonpartisan. I believe most Alaskans think similarly that partisan politics may be the problem and truly independent, nonpartisan voices are the answer to better governance. A bill that I do think was significantly positive with bipartisan support was:

• Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act- This may bring significant financial resources for infrastructure in Alaska. Since funding is slated to be distributed by grants and federal agencies, we have to make sure that the terms are manageable, and the projects are the most crucial and beneficial for current and future growth. We must make sure there are no roadblocks in the disbursement of the critically needed infrastructure funds at no additional expense to the state. Focus should remain on bringing fiber optic lines to our rural communities, building crucial roads and bridges where communities need them, and improving our marine highways and ferries. Autonomy for development on Native lands must remain in the hands of Native communities. A crucial aspect of project overall cost is operating and maintaining new infrastructure. This operational budget must be factored in and not paid for by state funds that will invariably dip into the PFD.

• Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (Honoring Our PACT) Act, to help our Veterans is significantly positive as it will help thousands of Veterans who were negatively affected by burn pits while serving our great country. It’s embarrassing that neither of our sitting senators representing Alaska voted for this bill when it was first put to vote in the Senate. That said with some political maneuvering and wide public outrage it did pass. Any bill that supports are veterans will pass on the first go around under my watch.

Lisa Murkowski:

No response received

Kelly Tshibaka:

The last two years have seen the Biden administration declare all-out war on Alaska’s economy and resource workers, with Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s help, and I don’t believe there’s anything positive about that. If there is any silver lining at all, it’s that the voters can now clearly see how terrible the polices are that come out of Washington, D.C.

I was glad to see Democrats introduce and receive bipartisan support for legislation to get our veterans health care coverage for conditions related to toxic substance exposure during military service. Our veterans were heroes at war; they should be treated as heroes at home by receiving benefits in record time.

What are your thoughts about the FBI’s raid of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home?

Pat Chesbro:

No response received

Shoshana Gungurstein:

The timing ahead of the mid-terms is questionable. Large raids of this caliber on a former President are rare. I truly hope that the DOJ has requisite legal basis for such an unprecedented search and I do have faith in our judicial process. The DOJ should act autonomously without any partisan directive.

Lisa Murkowski:

No response received

Kelly Tshibaka:

When even left-leaning commentators are saying that the FBI overstepped, you know it’s an outrageous situation. It’s clear that when the left is in charge, they weaponize government against their political adversaries, as with the FBI raid on President Trump, the FBI invasion of the Huepers’ home in Homer, and the hiring of 87,000 new IRS agents to oppress citizens. Meanwhile, I don’t remember any reports of the FBI raiding Hunter Biden’s place, despite widespread evidence of probable cause he has committed a crime.

Every American should condemn this gross abuse of power, because it means that there really are no limits on what federal agencies will do to citizens.

What is your assessment of the amount of federal funding and its designations for Alaska obtained during the past two years, and your thoughts on the roles the current congressional delegation played in obtaining the funds? What are your thoughts and priorities for seeking future federal funds for the state?

Pat Chesbro:

No response received

Shoshana Gungurstein:

Yes, we have received federal dollars in the past, and many proclaim we received vast amounts of funding from the recent infrastructure bill, but a comparative analysis of funding received by other states such as Alabama, show that we have had slow and stagnant growth in the percentage Alaskans receive from overall federal spending over the past 20 years.

Lisa Murkowski:

No response received

Kelly Tshibaka:

Lisa Murkowski talks an awful lot about the “infrastructure” bill she helped write for Joe Biden, but what she doesn’t tell you is that Alaska will most likely see little of that money. Sen. Dan Sullivan has spoken out about how this bill was a bait-and-switch to push through Green New Deal legislation because the radical environmentalists in the Biden Administration are crafting a mountain of rules, “clearly meant to kill infrastructure.” This is what happens when our senior senator is a 21-year Washington, D.C. insider who tries to make deals with the political elites.

Even the part of the bill with funds supposedly designated for the Alaska Marine Highway System says the Secretary of Transportation can waive criteria for who gets the money (e.g., open it up to more than AMHS) or can lock up the funding with bureaucratic requirements—just as Sen. Sullivan identified.

I will fight to take such momentous decisions out of the hands of unelected bureaucrats and make it so when Congress allocates money to Alaska, it isn’t blocked by impenetrable regulations or doesn’t result in devalued dollars because of gross inflation caused by exorbitant congressional spending. We desperately need infrastructure, not just the empty promise of it. And in addition to receiving our fair share of federal tax dollars, I will also work hard to return the millions of acres of land the federal government owes to Alaska and reduce regulations so we can develop our resources, including logging and mining. It is time the Lower 48 stopped treating Alaska like a national park for the rest of the country.

Are you willing to vote for a Supreme Court justice nominated by the president of the opposing party (and is your answer different for lower court nominees)? Regardless of your answer, what qualifying circumstances would you apply in terms of timing and qualifications?

Pat Chesbro:

No response received

Shoshana Gungurstein:

I will vote independently and in a nonpartisan manner to ascertain the qualification of any judicial candidates based on previous historic rulings. I believe the Supreme Court has become highly politicized. We shouldn’t just take a candidates words during hearing confirmations as the basis for their nomination, rather we should look at their previous rulings and beliefs. The incumbent mentioned that she was “blindsided” by the overturning of Roe vs Wade catalyzed by the justices she voted to confirm. One would hope that 20+ years in the Senate would afford some clarity to not be blindsided. Also recently, the interior secretary’s visit and subsequent decision of the administration to keep our oil fields closed surprised our sitting senator. Being consistently blindsided or surprised is not good leadership or governance, I will assess any judicial candidate based on prior ruling records. My criteria of judicial candidate fitness is nonpartisan, impartial analysis of legal issues.

Lisa Murkowski:

No response received

Kelly Tshibaka:

I will only support judicial nominees who are constitutionalists and don’t have a record of writing legislation from the bench. I would happily support constitutionalists nominated by a Democrat president.

How would you work with the Canadian government to improve the conditions of transboundary waters?

Pat Chesbro:

No response received

Shoshana Gungurstein:

Canada should follow our lead as we have better experience with regulating water bodies. Since we share our resources and biodiversity, Canada should be equally invested in enforcing good practices that reflect high standards of oversight and accountability. I will personally engage with Canadian premiers to get them on the same page expediently and help the bilateral efforts in responsible resource development. Alaska must robustly lead the efforts with other border states to encourage Canadian sovereign efforts so we can mitigate negative environmental impacts and protect our resources for many, many generations to come.

Lisa Murkowski:

No response received

Kelly Tshibaka:

Improving the conditions of transboundary waters also depends on finding a right mix of federal legislative actions and non-legislative, but cooperative, agreements between local entities that allow for the most effective governance of shared waters. Dealing with emerging environmental challenges also will depend on working with subnational and indigenous peoples’ groups in Canada and Alaska, as well as with the Canadian government. Sharing pilot programs, best practices, and data-based research to develop solutions together often is an effective method for working with other governments on joint projects.

What steps should Congress take to balance Alaska’s status as an oil state with the need to address climate change? (From the Alaska Beacon)

Pat Chesbro:

We have already seen catastrophic effects on coastal areas, salmon, ecosystems, and the Alaskan lifestyle due to climate change. We should halt further oil development in new areas and look for and fund renewable energy strategies, which will create jobs in Alaska. We must wean ourselves away from dependence on the oil industry to protect Alaska for future generations.

Shoshana Gungurstein:

We are not an oil state. We are an abundant resource state with resourceful people that will benefit from further economic diversification. We were once an oil state, but in recent years our average production has fallen behind North Dakota, Texas and almost tied with California, because the Federal government is shutting off our oil fields and limiting our potential to develop resources. Climate change is not a political buzzword, we feel its impacts every day here in Alaska. Our environmental stewardship approach to resource development is reflected in the rigorous environmental reviews we conduct. Local community comments and involvement are key for all our project development. Congress can no longer ignore what Alaskans are saying and should follow our lead. Alaska must have the ability to develop its resources in an environmentally feasible manner. We take pride in our biodiversity and natural resources. We will mitigate harmful CO2 emissions and protect our Caribou and Polar Bear populations, all while also making sure we can harvest our natural resources responsibly. Congress should make climate change a national priority, but Alaska should not be singled out as the one state where the federal government limits development.

Lisa Murkowski:

As long as the world needs oil, gas, coal, timber, and other resources, Alaska should be able to responsibly produce them. We were promised that right at statehood; it remains key to our economic future; and we have a proven record and labor, safety, and environmental standards higher than anywhere else in the world. Climate change is real, and we must work every day to reduce emissions. Alaska should lead the country in all forms of energy including renewables and microgrids. Innovation and efficiency are critical, which is why I led the first modernization of our nation’s energy policies in over a decade, the Energy Act, into law in 2020. That measure, along with the bipartisan infrastructure bill, will help us develop emerging technologies like energy storage; advanced nuclear; carbon capture, utilization, and storage; carbon removal; renewable energy; critical minerals and materials; and grid modernization.

Alaska has the highest health care costs in the nation. What will you do to reduce costs and improve access to services? (From the Alaska Beacon)

Pat Chesbro:

We need to increase the number of medical professionals, especially General Practice Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, Mental Health Workers, and Nurses. Telehealth provides additional ways to help those who live in remote areas get help. I have noticed that no longer do I get a printout of anticipated costs when I visit a health care facility. We need to require that health care facilities provide costs to patients so that they can be responsible consumers. Health care should be available to all, especially preventative care.

Shoshana Gungurstein:

I will make sure Congress dedicates all available federal funds necessary for an improved medical infrastructure as well as better transportation within the state so that rural and urban Alaskans have more accessible quality healthcare. It’s time we open a Medical School in the state.

I believe in a free-market economy and the government should stay out of business to let it thrive. That said, the US government is one of the main buyers of expensive pharmaceuticals and medical devices through Medicare and other programs, and the government should be able to negotiate better prices with the drug and medical device companies as other countries have done. As a Senator, I will draft policy to better negotiate lower prices so that Alaskans and all Americans can afford much needed life sustaining drugs and access to medical devices. We have to create a new balance where citizens and free markets can coexist and thrive.

Lisa Murkowski:

It is long past time for Congress to move beyond the partisan fighting over the Affordable Care Act, and work towards solutions that go beyond insurance coverage to address the true cost of care, regardless of who pays for it. We need to tackle prescription drug costs, expand access to telehealth, improve access to behavioral health services, support innovative payment models that work for rural areas, and do more to support our health care workforce and bring providers to Alaska. As a senior member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, I championed successful efforts to ban surprise medical billing, including for air ambulance services. I’ve been working to preserve some of the innovations that came out of the COVID response, including access to telehealth. As a senior appropriator, I have long supported health workforce programs like the National Health Service Corps. I’ve also secured federal funds to support health care construction projects across Alaska, including a new health clinic in Girdwood and emergency department at Alaska Native Medical Center. We must also address the health effects of trauma, which is why it was critical to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, and secure funding for water and sanitation infrastructure across rural Alaska.

ALASKA GOVERNOR

Candidates included

Mike Dunleavy (R)

Les Gara (D)

Christopher Kurka (R)

Charlie Pierce (R)

Bill Walker (I)

Name three pieces of legislation you would like to introduce and why

Mike Dunleavy:

No response received

Les Gara:

There are many things I would do as Governor, but I’m the only candidate who will prioritize Universal Pre-K, protect a woman’s right to choose, and invest in clean, affordable energy for our communities.

• Universal Pre-K. I will enact legislation to fund Universal Pre-K for Alaska’s families. This investment will prepare our children to enter school ready to learn and ready to read; it will relieve parents of excessive childcare costs and allow more Alaskans to enter the workforce; and will lead to better outcomes for individuals and communities. It’s the best investment we could make for Alaska’s future.

• Protect a Woman’s Right to Choose. As governor, I will enact an Executive Order to protect health care providers and others, who help a woman with reproductive health decisions, from criminal and civil prosecution by other states. I will take action take action to keep the right to choose legal and to keep the right to safe contraception legal if that becomes the next battleground at the Supreme Court. I am the only pro-choice candidate on the ballot, in a race with two men who’ve been governor who have sued to roll back a woman’s right to choose while in office. In contrast to all my opponents, I have a lifetime record of fighting for a woman’s right to choose. Women should have the right to a year’s worth of contraception coverage so they don’t have to repeatedly refill contraception prescriptions.

• Invest in Clean, Affordable Energy. Alaska is on the frontlines of climate change and has some of the highest energy costs in the country. We’ve set aside some effective programs that saved Alaskans money, created jobs, and put more money back into our state—like a Renewable Energy Fund, which should be used to build renewable power across the state. The AHFC home energy improvement grants helped people reduce the cost of energy. Creative and forward-thinking programs need to be prioritized as we work together to find cost-saving, clean energy solutions for all of our communities.

Christopher Kurka:

No response received

Charlie Pierce:

No response received

Bill Walker:

No response received

Name at least one significant positive achievement by the opposing political party during the past two years (if an Independent, an achievement by the incumbent party)

Mike Dunleavy:

No response received

Les Gara:

A federal delegation worked closely with President to bring infrastructure dollars to Alaska that will improve our transportation infrastructure, bring jobs to our communities, drive down energy costs, and build a better future for our state if the funds are used wisely. This bipartisan partnership of working toward solutions that benefit all Alaskans is what we need to see in Alaska’s gubernatorial administration. That’s how we create jobs, and build stronger communities.

Christopher Kurka:

No response received

Charlie Pierce:

No response received

Bill Walker:

No response received

What natural resource projects would you prioritize as governor and why?

Mike Dunleavy:

No response received

Les Gara:

Our most valuable, most sustainable natural resource is our fish. I believe fish are one thing that brings Alaskans together, whether they commercial, subsistence, or sport fish. We should take action to protect our fisheries. I would work to stop the toxic Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, which would threaten the world’s greatest remaining salmon fisheries.

I also would work to invest our oil wealth to build renewable energy across Alaska to reduce energy costs, put people to work, and address global warming.

Christopher Kurka:

No response received

Charlie Pierce:

No response received

Bill Walker:

No response received

What do you attribute the Alaska Marine Highway’s grade of “D” on the state’s most recent infrastructure report card to, what do you feel is necessary to improve it and how do you feel the federal infrastructure funds designated for ferries should be spent?

As a legislator I voted to support a vibrant Marine Highway. I will work to restore the Marine Highway as a vibrant, affordable way for people in coastal communities to travel and transport goods. The current administration has made devastating cuts to the ferry and there’s a lot of work that must now be done to reduce that damage. Their inaction on maintaining the Ferry Malaspina, which has now been lost to neglect and disrepair, was negligence not leadership.

Christopher Kurka:

From the Alaska Beacon on “an ideal ferry system”: An ideal ferry system would be privately owned, not state owned. It would consist of shorter ferries connected by road systems, rather than the long sections it currently has.

Charlie Pierce:

From the Alaska Beacon “an ideal ferry system”: The State ferry system is “The Alaska Marine Highway” and must be maintained and operated in a business fashion. The ideal system will provide economical and reliable ferry service to all residents of Alaska. Many communities depend on the ferry system for their economic and community access needs. The “Ideal” operation is yet to be defined.

Bill Walker:

From the Alaska Beacon “an ideal ferry system”: We believe an ideal ferry system is, first and foremost, fully funded. This means a ferry system that is reliable, predictable, and fully staffed. It’s reliable, because we keep up with maintenance and replace old boats; it’s predictable, because we maintain a stable schedule that coastal communities can rely upon; and it’s fully staffed because we attract, train, and retain the best home-grown Alaska mariners. It also means we attract visitors from around the world to ride our blue canoes, with gift shops, live music, and naturalists aboard. We have always believed that a certain amount of state funding is required to maintain and operate the system, in much the same way state funding is required to maintain and operate surface roads and highways around the state. An ideal state ferry system would be one that reaches every coastal community in Alaska and allows for the coastal communities in our state to grow economically. Easy, reliable, affordable transportation in and around our coastal communities is a missing cornerstone of Alaska’s economic growth and must be restored.

In what ways, if any, do you believe climate change is affecting Alaska and 1) what actions at the state level do you favor to address them and 2) if your answer is none, explain your reasoning?

Mike Dunleavy:

No response received

Les Gara:

Alaska is on the forefront of the climate change crisis and we see it every day in the changes to fish and animal migration, our melting permafrost, wildfires, and displaced communities. There are very few Alaskans, on either side of the aisle, who don’t recognize climate change is happening and we must do something to address it.

We need to focus on building out affordable, reliable, renewable energy infrastructure across Alaska, make adequate investments in our emergency services to deal with predictable disasters like wildfires, and invest in ensuring that Alaskans have food security and access to clean water and vibrant fisheries. As a legislator, for example, I co-sponsored the energy efficiency rules that require state and University and court buildings to be constructed to cost-saving energy efficiency standards, which saved our state money in the long term on energy-related costs for public facilities. Working across party lines to pass that legislation was the right thing to do to reduce our impact on global warming.

Christopher Kurka:

No response received

Charlie Pierce:

No response received

Bill Walker:

No response received

Should a state constitutional convention be held, and why or why not?

Mike Dunleavy:

I think it’s up to every individual Alaskan to decide if they believe that the Constitution in its current form works. A majority may say it does and therefore will vote no, a majority may say there needs to be changes and will vote yes. (From interview by the Alaska Beacon)

Les Gara:

I do not support a constitutional Convention because (with the elimination of contribution limits) special interests, large corporations, and the wealthiest outsiders will have agendas that the constitutional delegates they fund will then push. There is too much at risk—a woman’s right to choose, equal rights for all including our LGBTQ+ neighbors, fishing and hunting rights, and so much more. Our constitution should be driven by the will of the people, but a convention with Outside-funded delegates will put Alaska up for sale to the highest bidder.

Christopher Kurka:

No. (From yes/no question by the Alaska Beacon)

Charlie Pierce:

Yes. (From yes/no question by the Alaska Beacon)

Bill Walker:

No. (From yes/no question by the Alaska Beacon)

How should the state of Alaska set the amount of the Permanent Fund dividend each year? (From the Alaska Beacon)

Mike Dunleavy:

No response received

Les Gara:

I believe in a strong, growing PFD people can bank on, not the false, unfunded PFD promises this Governor has made to get votes.

We can have a strong PFD (that doesn’t take away from schools and other major priorities). But a Governor has to have the courage to fund it, without taking from schools, jobs, and the priorities that make Alaska strong, which Gov. Dunleavy never has. That’s why Dunleavy’s PFD averaged $1,230 his first 3 years as Governor.

Last year, with no plan again to fund a PFD, Dunleavy came up with a last minute plan to raid $3 billion from the Permanent Fund. That would have been the largest raid and reduction in Permanent Fund value in state history.

The most important part is funding a PFD, so it’s real and not false, and doesn’t require last-minute raids on the Permanent Fund by a Governor without a plan. Gov. Dunleavy has refused to do that until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year sent us one year of higher oil revenue, in an election year.

His record on the PFD is poor. In 2016 as a legislator, he voted to uphold the 2016 PFD Veto that reduced the PFD to $1,020 (I voted to override that veto saying it was not the way to set PFD policy Alaskans would accept, and Alaskans have been pitted against each other ever since).

Dunleavy has NEVER proposed any sustainable way to fund a PFD. My PFD with be real, strong, and funded.

We have to fund what we promise. I’d end $1.2 billion of unjustifiable oil company subsidies, so we have the funds to stop pitting Alaskans who support schools, a PFD, a construction job budget, road maintenance, and renewable energy projects against each other.

By getting a fair share for Alaska’s oil, we could have a growing PFD exceeding $2,000 EVERY year, and could strongly support schools, seniors, renewable energy projects, construction jobs, needed infrastructure and community projects, road maintenance, a strong Marine Highway, children, and mental health and substance abuse treatment.

This Governor has turned Alaskans against each other over these things every year. I’ll work to unite Alaskans again.

Charlie Pierce:

I support the payment of the PFD by the statutory formula and will work to restore the the statutory PFD as an “Alaskan Right.”

Bill Walker:

A governor does not have a checkbook, the legislature does, and it is very misleading for a governor to guarantee any PFD amount without the support of the legislature. For more than eight years, the legislature has been high centered over the amount of the Dividend. We commit to provide real leadership, and work with the Legislature to update the 40-year-old formula for a predictable amount that Alaskans can rely upon long into the future. Our position is that the PFD should be predictable and the highest we can afford but not at the expense of future generations receiving a PFD, high taxes, or weakened government services such as education and public safety.

What should the state do to improve retention of public employees, including teachers? (From the Alaska Beacon)

Mike Dunleavy:

From Beacon interview: This is something that’s happening all over the country, private and public sector. I’ve talked to governors who are having the same issue across the country. And when I talk to private folks, the private sector, same issue. It’s a bizarre phenomenon. We don’t — the question is where did these people go and where are they at? So as you know, we’ve increased salaries in Alaska to attract and retain people. We’ve put signing bonuses in place to attract and retain people. And we’re going to continue to dipstick and find out what it would take to get people to want to look at state government in terms of a career, but also, what are some of the things that they believe that we can differently in state government to make this a situation where we can get our vacancy rates down more and get good people in there serving the people of Alaska.

Les Gara:

Teachers and Education: I have always supported public education, and have filed legislation to keep public school support up with inflation so schools don’t have to cut teachers, counsellors, nurses and courses. In 2018 I wrote Alaska’s last legislation that led to a multi-year education funding increase so schools could keep up with inflation costs, and Gov. Dunleavy tried and failed to block that funding.

Gov. Dunleavy tried cutting over a quarter billion dollars from public education his first year in office, which would have caused the firing of 2,800 teachers and educators and decimated our schools..

Until this year, education support has been allowed to lag $120 million behind inflation since 2014, causing the loss of counselors, teachers, courses, and opportunity. We should end the annual fight over school funding, support vibrant schools, and keep support up with inflation every year.

We lose teachers when districts don’t have enough to attract and retain them with a competitive salary. Today most districts have a much harder time attracting and retaining teachers than they did when we supported our schools.

Teachers, Police, Troopers, Firefighters and other employees: I am the only candidate who, while in office and when I had the chance, sponsored legislation to return to a cost-effective pension for teachers, police, firefighters, Troopers and other public employees. I hope other candidates finally get on board on this issue.

In 2006 I voted against ending pensions, warning that we’d have what exists now – teachers, police, firefighters and others, who have no pension, and who just leave Alaska for other states that do offer pensions. Alaska just loses money by wasting money training professionals who then leave after we train them.

Pensions are an incentive for police, teachers, Troopers, firefighters and other public servants to stay in Alaska, and not just train here and leave. The pension plans of the 1980’s were far too expensive and unsustainable. But a fair pension would cost roughly what the current retirement plan costs. And it would work as an incentive to keep our best employees in Alaska, because the longer they contribute to a pension, the stronger it becomes.

Christopher Kurka:

This is a tone deaf and offensive question to the tens of thousands of Alaskans who lost their businesses and livelihoods due to the government’s response to COVID-19. Meanwhile, public employees retained their jobs, continuing to collect paychecks and benefits while the private sector was under threat of fines and jailtime for continuing to work their crafts.

By the time I am done cutting government, public employees will be thankful to still have a job. The answer to the original question involves freedom to choose where to invest one’s retirement and rewarding excellent state employees over subpar ones.

Charlie Pierce:

The retention of teachers is especially important in our state. Reducing administrative overhead and increasing teacher salaries is critical to the improvement in the education of our children.

Bill Walker:

A recent report found that nearly 1 in 5 state jobs is vacant, and many state agencies are struggling to fill open positions. Retention of state workers is as challenging as recruitment largely because retirement benefits are weaker than the rest of the country. Making matters worse, teachers in Alaska are at a unique disadvantage because they do not receive social security benefits. Lack of a strong retirement system is a driving force in Alaska’s teacher crisis which was highlighted in another report that showed widespread teacher hiring problems across Alaska. We must reform the state retirement system as a top priority.

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