Economist Ed King makes it a race for Juneau House seat

King is challenging incumbent Andi Story for the district covering the Mendenhall Valley

Professional economist Ed King stands across from the State Capitol on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. King is running for House District 34, which covers the Mendenhall Valley and is currently represented by Democrat Andi Story. King said he wants to bring his expertise to the Alaska Legislature to help get the state back on the right fiscal track. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

Professional economist Ed King stands across from the State Capitol on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. King is running for House District 34, which covers the Mendenhall Valley and is currently represented by Democrat Andi Story. King said he wants to bring his expertise to the Alaska Legislature to help get the state back on the right fiscal track. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

Former state economist Ed King is challenging Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau for her District 34 seat in the Alaska House of Representatives which covers the Mendenhall Valley.

Running as an independent, King said he thinks his experience as an economist gives him the skills necessary to advocate for financial reforms.

“The Legislature hasn’t been able to solve our financial problems,” King said in an interview Wednesday. “I’m tired of seeing the same thing over and over again.”

The state’s spending is out of control, King said, and revenues were too volatile. The state is going to have to make some hard decisions about its budget in the near future, and he had experience with those kinds of negotiations, King said.

“I have history doing negotiations and doing meetings and making tough decisions,” King said. “But it requires a public process. I don’t want to say I have all the answers, but I think we have to have the conversation. We need to do something that creates that structure.”

King runs an economics consulting firm and previously worked for the state as an economic adviser, including six months as Alaska’s chief economic adviser. He said he advocates for some kind of constitutional spending cap and getting the state’s revenue streams to be less dependent on oil.

[Reps. Story, Hannan to seek re-election in Nov. election]

He wasn’t critical of his opponent, and said he wanted to provide the people of Juneau with an alternative option.

“I don’t have anything against (Story),” King said. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with her (leadership), I just do have the skills to (make tough decisions) if that’s what people want to do.”

Story and Juneau’s other two state lawmakers, Sen. Jesse Kiehl and Rep. Sara Hannan, both Democrats, were elected in the state’s 2018 election. Story and Hannan both recently finished their first terms and are running for re-election, but Hannan is running unopposed. Senators serve four year terms so Kiehl is not up for election this year, but certain Senate seats are on different voting schedules so half the Senate will be running this fall.

“I’m pretty fired up, our state’s facing big challenges,” Story said Wednesday in a phone interview. “I’ve got a lot of experience working across the aisle, I think it’s so important.”

Having strong connections with other lawmakers is especially important for representing the capital city, Story said, and she’s worked hard to forge those relationships.

This year’s campaign will be different, social distancing will make the traditional meet-and-greet events that make up most elections more difficult.

King said he had never ran an election campaign, traditional or otherwise, and that he would likely rely heavily on social media and virtual interaction. Story said roughly the same thing, adding the most important thing was people being able to reach her.

“I know it’s an uphill battle,” King said about running a more conservative campaign in left-leaning Juneau. “I don’t want to be overconfident, but I think we’re a little more purple than we are blue (in the Mendenhall Valley). I want to provide the public with that alternative.”

How to vote

There is a statewide primary election on Aug 18, but since the candidates aren’t from the same party, King and Story will not be part of that election. Election Day is Nov. 3, 2020. Polls are open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Those wishing to apply for mail-in ballots must fill out an application and send it to the Alaska Division of Elections Absentee Office. Ballots must be postmarked on or before election day. Applications can be sent by email, but the document must have a handwritten signature. Digital signatures will not be accepted.

Applications for mail-in ballots are accepted until 10 days before an election.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.

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