(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

Opinion: Opposite sides agree that a constitutional convention is a bad idea

Approving a constitutional convention would be very bad for Alaska.

Everyone who knows us also knows that we generally don’t agree on political matters. In fact, we are commonly on opposite sides of the table when it comes to natural resource matters.

But there is one thing on which we do agree — approving the constitutional convention, on which Alaskans will vote this November, would be very bad for Alaska no matter where you stand. For conservation-minded folk it risks tampering with the sustained yield principle contained in Article VIII of Alaska’s constitution. For the development community it risks business turmoil as now settled principles of law could be thrown open again and new taxes on industry sought to pay for “pie in the sky” ideas.

Moreover, were there to be a constitutional convention it would be very different from that held in Fairbanks in 1955. Fifty-five Alaskans gathered with the common purpose of preparing a model constitution. The delegates recognized that the document they were preparing had to convince Congress that Alaska was ready for statehood. So, they worked together to make it the best. And they succeeded!

Indeed, those who want a constitutional convention do not argue that it is not an excellent constitution, or that one is needed because the mechanisms of government aren’t working, or that the rights built into it are insufficient. Rather, like their counterparts in the Lower 48, they want to resolve social and cultural issues like abortion, and economic issues like the PFD issues their way. So, the likelihood of Alaskans finding common purpose and compromise in a convention today is almost nil.

Alaskans are already polarized in their views — just like citizens in the rest of the United States. So, instead of Alaskans gathering as one to resolve Alaskan issues as in 1955, we would likely see Lower 48, Outside interests spending large amounts of money to put their point of view into Alaska’s new constitution. Instead of the control Alaskans now have over their Constitution through the demonstrably workable amendment process, a constitutional convention would open Pandora’s box. Expenditures of outside money by outside groups would likely reign and Alaskans would lose control.

Joni Mitchell is famous for singing “You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Til It’s Gone.” That’s the situation Jim and Kate agree would occur if a constitutional convention is approved in November.

Vote no. It’s dangerous, not needed, and expensive. Worst of all it will drive Alaskans further apart in ways over which we will have no control.

• Jim Clark is former chief of staff for Gov. Frank Murkowski. Kate Troll is a former Juneau Assembly member. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

More in Opinion

A roll of “I Voted” stickers await voters on Election Day in Alaska. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the prospect of a state constitutional convention. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Election winners, losers and poor losers

Tshibaka and Palin misread Alaskans by thinking Trump’s endorsement all but guaranteed they’d win.

Have something to say?

Here’s how to add your voice to the conversation.

Norwegian Cruise Lines announced in late August that it would donate a 2.9 acre plot of land owned by the cruise line since 2019 on Juneau's waterfront to Huna Totem Corporation to develop. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Aak’w Landing is Juneau’s most promising new project

Now, more than ever, our community needs the jobs, tax revenue, and stability…

Opinion: Freedom in the classroom sets precedence for the future

We advocate for the adoption of legislation to protect students’ First Amendment rights…

This photo available under a Creative Commons license shows a kelp forest. (Camille Pagniello)
Opinion: Indigenous-led mariculture and traditional economies set an example for our future

November is Native American Heritage Month, and traditional Indigenous knowledge is essential… Continue reading

Exhibit curator Ron Carver designed “Mỹ Lai – A Massacre Took 504 Souls, and Shook the World"  to progress from gruesome images to the soldiers who courageously intervened. And to those who made sure America and the world learned the truth. (Courtesy Photo)
Opinion: The power in attempting to memorialize the truth

Real heroes emerge from horrific events.

Opinion: My Turn was right on the money

While I’ve never met Mr. Adler I share his concerns.

(Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Mayor and assembly must rein in the assessor’s office

The unconscionable way the assessor’s office is treating commercial property owners must end.

This photo shows Diane Kaplan at Silver Salmon Camp. (Courtesy Photo / Sven Haakanson)
Opinion: Exciting new beginnings — they always come with sad farewells

Perhaps now is the right time to hand off our creation to the next generation.

Most Read