I live in Juneau, House District 33, currently represented by Rep. Sam Kito. This is my first time voting in a state election — I’m 19, but I’ve been involved in local politics for almost four years. I started my activism in high school, advocating for sexual education in the Alaska Legislature, speaking at local rallies like the 2017 Women’s March and Families Belong Together, and organizing with environmental campaigns in the state. I hold strong progressive values, but I also believe in the importance of collaboration and bipartisanship. Chris Dimond is someone who shares my values and has proven he’ll be a unifying voice in the Alaska Legislature, and I’m excited to cast my first vote in the House District 33 election for him.
Sara Hannan, the Democratic nominee, and Dimond, the Independent in the race, are both compelling options for the job. I want to see a progressive woman in office, but it’s important that we have a representative who’ll consider all of the values in our district, think critically about the problems our district faces, and collaborate with stakeholders to pass policies that will benefit Alaska. As a legislator, your role is to help the residents of your district by passing and crafting policies that’ll resolve concerns brought by your constituents. The work requires you to listen deeply to your district, and be willing to work with different personalities to get the job done.
I’ve interacted with Hannan and Dimond several times on the campaign trail, and it’s clear that Dimond is the stronger contender for the seat. Firstly, at the heart of Dimond’s campaign is unity: while Dimond aligns with Democrats, he also recognizes that party politics can obfuscate a legislator’s view of what’s important. He pulled a politically challenging move by running as an Independent, showing how committed he is to listening to Alaskans regardless of their political affiliation. Secondly, Dimond knows how to ask questions. It’s impossible to know every issue impacting a region, which is why being willing to learn is key. I’ve had several conversations with Dimond, and was impressed when he asked what protects a woman’s right to choose on the state level if Roe v. Wade is overturned, a question that shows he’s looking for solutions if the case is overturned.
Lastly, Dimond is a known collaborator. Working as an organizer for the Carpenters Union, his job is focused on creating and maintaining strong working relationships, and it shows. He has taken the initiative to greet me on the street, and when I Facebook invited him to a “Vote No on Kavanaugh” rally, he promptly told me that while he wished he could attend, he wouldn’t be able to because of another obligation. He later imparted words of solidarity and asked me how the rally went. As a young activist, I’m usually either put on a pedestal or ignored by state leaders in my work. Dimond treated me like a colleague.
My decision to support Dimond didn’t come easily. At the beginning of the election, I wasn’t sure who to vote for. Hannan and I share similar values and I was skeptical of Dimond’s campaign. Local Democrats, a constituency whose opinion I consider strongly, were concerned that Dimond was really a “Republican in disguise” because he chose to run Independent and is supported by Republicans. This type of rhetoric, however, is misleading. Dimond shares a platform with the Democrats and the House Majority Coalition — he’s focused on generating income for the state, he’s strongly pro-union and pro-choice, he wants a stronger education, and he recognizes climate change is real. The difference I’ve noticed between Hannan and Dimond is that while Hannan assumes you’re on her team, Dimond works hard to include you on the team by listening, asking and collaborating. His commitment is why he’s supported by progressives and conservatives alike, not his political party.
Dimond can execute the solutions Alaska needs and he’ll work hard to include us in the process. I ask District 33 residents from anywhere on the political spectrum to consider Dimond as the independent voice we need to carry our state forward into the future.
Tasha Elizarde is a 19-year-old born-and-raised Juneau activist. She has volunteered and worked for organizations focused on issues like women’s health and environmental protection, at the Alaska Legislature and a number of local campaigns. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.