Chris Dimond remembers the moment he realized he was an alcoholic.
He and his wife had come to Louie’s Douglas Inn after a fundraiser for the Juneau Ski Club. He ordered a ginger ale and turned to talk to friends at the bar. When he turned around and saw a drink on the bar, he picked it up and took a sip. It was full of vodka.
“As I was setting it down, I could completely foresee myself picking it back up, slamming it down while nobody looked and grabbing every other one on the bar and getting them down as quick as possible, and it was at that moment, I realized, oh Jesus, I am an alcoholic,” he said.
It’s now been more than a year since that day.
“I’m going to stick with this, and I’m done,” he said.
Dimond, 43, is the independent candidate to represent House District 33 in the Alaska Legislature. In election forums and events across Juneau, he has been forthright about his triumph over alcohol addiction, and in talking with the Empire, he said it’s critical for Alaskans to talk about their problems in order to solve them.
“I’ve been very open about it, and I think we all need to be more open, and I recognize that’s not something a lot of people are comfortable talking about,” he said.
Alaska is experiencing an epidemic of opioid and methamphetamine addiction, which has led to a surge in crime and addiction-related health problems.
“I’ve watched people close in my life and in my children’s lives struggle with addiction,” he said. “I’ve had several friends overdose on heroin. I watched my best friend in high school go down that route and pass away.”
For that reason, he said, he avidly supports state programs to treat drug addicts in ways that don’t involve prison.
The idea of locking up addicts “is such a terrible, terrible mentality to treat someone that is really going through the worst moments in their life,” he said. “Addiction is such a powerful thing. Once it has hold of you, it’s all-consuming.”
Dimond was born in Juneau and graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School. He has one full brother, who works as a crane operator in Las Vegas, a half-sister and a half-brother. Both of his half-siblings live in Juneau; the sister is a web designer (who built his campaign website) and his half-brother does contract work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
He’s lived in Juneau for most of his life, except for a stint in Montana. He moved there in 1998 and had two girls — Mckenzie and Rebecca — with his first wife.
After they divorced, Dimond tried making ends meet as a single parent. He couldn’t do it in Montana, so he returned to Juneau.
As he explained, the experience “gives me a better understanding of what working men and women in this state are faced with when trying to survive on one job that doesn’t pay very well.”
“If you’re working 40 hours a week, you should be able to make enough to support yourself and your family. You shouldn’t have to work two or three jobs to survive,” he said.
After returning to Juneau, he married Nona, a staffer for Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak. Nona had a son of her own, Gavin, also from a previous marriage.
“We’re the Brady Bunch, a small Brady Bunch,” Dimond said.
In the capital city, he worked as a carpenter and for the local carpenter’s union. He worked on projects including renovations to the Treadwell Pump House. He trained journeymen and was a regular figure in the Capitol, lobbying lawmakers on behalf of the organization.
There are no Republicans in the House District 33 race, just the independent Dimond and Democratic candidate Sara Hannan.
He laughed when asked whether he is acting as a “shadow Republican” in the race.
“Emphatically no,” he said.
“I think both parties have gone too far in pushing their platforms and ideologies,” he said.
While House District 33 has the largest proportion of registered Democrats in Alaska, the majority of the district’s voters are still nonpartisan or undeclared voters.
“This state is mixed. Every state has Republicans and Democrats and other,” he said.
While he calls himself a “center-left” voter, he said he is “running to represent everyone in this district. I’m not running to represent a party.”
Election profiles schedule
Ahead of the Nov. 6 general election, the Empire is publishing profiles of the six local candidates who will appear on the ballot. One will run each day. Here’s when you can expect to see a story:
• Oct. 18: Don Etheridge
• Oct. 19: Chris Dimond
• Oct. 21: Jesse Kiehl
• Oct. 22: Jerry Nankervis
• Oct. 23: Andi Story
• Oct. 24: Sara Hannan
• Contact reporter James Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 523-2258.