Opinion: The many reasons I’m voting for Les Gara for governor

  • By Dr. Emily Kane
  • Monday, June 13, 2022 11:14am
  • Opinion

By Dr. Emily Kane

We need a governor who respects the legitimate needs of all people to reach their potential. Les Gara worked hard for all of us as a legislator for 18 years. He is the only gubernatorial candidate who has consistently stood up for a woman’s right to sovereignty over her own body. He has fought for public education and academic opportunity which is in stark contrast to other candidates including two men who have served as Alaska’s Governor but used their time in office to cut public school and university funding.

The Nov. 8 election will present a unique opportunity to vote for values AND fiscal stability without compromise. Because Alaskans were savvy enough to vote in ranked choice, in the upcoming governor’s race we won’t have to worry about splitting votes or hedging our bets. We will just get to vote for whoever we think best represents our personal values and what we hold dear for Alaska. All the candidates will be on one ticket no matter what their affiliated political party may be. What matters is what the candidate wants to do for our great state. Les has an economic plan to rebuild Alaska. His record speaks for itself; he has earned our trust. I hope this short biography of Les’ accomplishments will provide a backdrop for recognizing that his plans for how he would govern resonate with most Alaskans.

As a former foster youth, Les has battled plenty of adversity, and this has informed his dedication to public service. He has used his career to ensure everyone gets a fair chance to succeed. This is why Les is adamant about supporting a strong, dynamic, educational system, which is essential for developing both our workforce, and meaningful, well-paid jobs as we move into an era of innovative and sustainable resource management.

Unlike the other candidates, Les believes we must protect our fisheries against deadly factory trawler bycatch. He has consistently opposed Pebble Mine, which we all know poses an untenable threat to the greatest remaining wild salmon spawning grounds in the world.

Les has worked tirelessly to end the yearly oil company tax subsidies that amounted to $1.3 billion in 2021. We need that money to rebuild our state and bolster our savings — instead of dipping into them.

Les’ platform is built on issues which most Alaskans agree with; and in case you didn’t know Les has the strongest record on each of these issues, let’s go through some facts:

1. Les is the only pro-choice candidate in the race. This is a crucial moment in American history where 50 years of legal precedent to allow a woman to manage her family planning is at risk. Les has never wavered in his absolute commitment to a woman’s right to choose. That shouldn’t be controversial, but somehow it has become a political lightning rod. This decision is personal, not political, and must be protected definitively, lest we regress as a nation and as a democracy. By contrast, Gov. Mike Dunleavy has sued the state to side with the radical Texas law that effectively bans a woman’s right to choose. Former Gov. Bill Walker has a long-held belief that causes him to be anti-choice. He was a major donor to the 2010 anti-choice voter initiative, and held a fundraiser for it at his home. He promised in 2014 that if he were elected he’d hold his personal values aside — a hard thing for anyone to do — and veto anti-choice legislation. But then he retracted that promise and sided against pro-choice precedents. Walker sued to restrict Medicaid coverage of abortion services despite Alaska Courts making clear he’d lose that lawsuit – which he did. This wasted the state a lot of money. Dunleavy repeated this mistake recently; more money wasted.

2. Les has sponsored legislation to uphold the rights of all Alaskans to equal treatment under the law. None of his opponents have stood with their LGBTQ+ neighbors. Dunleavy has played political games with their basic rights and Walker sued to block gay marriage while governor, saying he believes “marriage can only be between a man and a woman.”

3. Les stands alone on commitment to public education among the main candidates. Dunleavy proposed a record $280 million cut to public education during his first year in office. Walker cut $32 million in promised statutory education funds in 2015, and vetoed over $50 million in public education and university funds in 2016. Les has always fought for our schools, and our university system.

4. Les understands the vital importance of the Marine Highway to Southeast Alaskans. He has always stood with the Southeast delegation to fight for our Marine Highway so residents and businesses can thrive and maintain crucial transportation and delivery routes.

5. Les is the only candidate in this race with proposals to fund job development, educational opportunity, and renewable energy projects.

Les is a breath of fresh air. He has the credibility and drive to bring Alaska, finally, into the 21st century with a new, modern economy that lifts everyone up and diversifies our energy and income streams. Les would stop the annual billion plus dollar giveaway of Alaska’s oil revenue by ending the oil companies’ tax credit subsidies Dunleavy voted for. As a legislator Les consistently voted against these ludicrous giveaways, every time. Let’s make Les Gara our next governor by voting for him in the Aug. 16 primary and again in the Nov. 8 general election.

• Dr. Emily Kane has provided nutritionally-based primary care services in Juneau for nearly 30 years. 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.

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