(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

Have something to say?

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

A person departs Bartlett Regional Hospital on July 26, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The importance of a strong, independent community hospital

Juneau’s city-owned Bartlett Regional Hospital (BRH) is in the news, presenting our… Continue reading

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Letter: Disappointed by JAHC director’s opposition to Ship-Free Saturdays

As a member of the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, I was… Continue reading

Juneau residents pack a room at the downtown public library for a June 6 meeting of Eaglecrest Ski Area’s board of directors. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
My Turn: Eaglecrest unplugged

Serving on a board or commission is hard work and that service… Continue reading

Downtown Juneau in late October of 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Mitigating the loss of tax revenue from cruise ship free Saturdays

The cruise ship free Saturday initiative presents us with a modified lesson… Continue reading

Leaders at Bartlett Regional Hospital listen to comments from residents during a forum Monday about proposed cuts to some services. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
My Turn: Bartlett board faces challenges

Once upon a time, Alaska’s capital had a well-run municipal hospital, but… Continue reading

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Letter: SEARHC’s goals seem likely to limit, rather than expand, health options in Juneau

Max Mertz’s comments at the Bartlett Regional Hospital public forum about SEARHC’s… Continue reading

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Letter: Allow locals to have their town back once a week during the summer

Perhaps Nate Vallier shrugs when he sees eagles and bears (My Turn,… Continue reading

Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower after he was found guilty of all counts in his criminal trial in New York on May 30. (Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times)
Opinion: Trump’s new fixers

“Alaska Republicans back Trump after historic conviction in hush money case,” the… Continue reading

A Carnival cruise ship is berthed Juneau’s cruise ship docks during the summer of 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Ignoring the consequences of ship-free Saturdays?

Backers of a cruise initiative to block large cruise ships from docking… Continue reading

Two skiers settle into a lift chair as they pass trees with fresh snow at Eaglecrest Ski Area on Dec. 20, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
My Turn: Eaglecrest Ski Area attempting to do too much without sensible leadership

Ever wonder what the 50-year-old clearcut above the beginner slopes at Eaglecrest… Continue reading

Juneau School District administrators and board members listen to a presentation about the district’s multi-million deficit during a Jan. 9 meeting. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
My Turn: School board recall not a cure for ‘failure to thrive’

Decline happens over time. Kinda like the way we gain weight and… Continue reading