U.S. Senate candidate Margaret Stock visited Homer on Thursday, Sept. 22, meeting with local businesses owners and community members as part of her campaign to overtake incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the November election. Stock is running as an independent candidate.
Stock is a former officer in the U.S. Army, starting with a commission in the Army Reserve during her time at Boston University and Harvard College, according to the biography on her campaign website, margaretforalaska.com. After graduating from Harvard, she volunteered for active military service in Alaska.
After serving at Fort Richardson, she was released from the Army to return to Harvard to pursue degrees from the Law School and the Kennedy School of Government and was elected the first female editor-in-chief of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.
Since finishing graduate school, Stock has worked as an attorney in a private practice in Anchorage, served in the Army Reserve in Japan, Korea and in the United States, taught constitutional and national security law at the United States Military Academy at West Point for five years, worked as a project officer for a Pentagon recruiting program for legal immigrants, taught government and international relations as an adjunct professor at University of Alaska Anchorage, and testified before Congress.
Since 2011, Stock has worked in her private law practice in Alaska where she helps individuals and Alaska companies navigate the United States’ immigration system.
In 2013, she was named a MacArthur Foundation genius grant winner for her work on immigration and national security issues.
“I’m the strongest candidate and I’ll do the best job for Alaska in the United States Senate,” Stock said. “Senator Murkowski is fully backed by her national party and that’s one of the problems. She’s beholden to the national party rather than to the people of Alaska. My values are more in line with the 54 percent of Alaskans who are independent.”
Formerly a Republican, Stock decided to disassociate with the party as the GOP became too extreme on a number of issues she cares about, she said. One of the last straws for her was the party’s wish to redefine the 14th amendment, which states that people born or naturalized in the United States are U.S. citizens and citizens of the state they reside in. The amendment also states that no state can make or enforce any law that abridges the privileges of citizens without due process of law.
“They want to go back to the pre-14th amendment law which states that people born in the United States are not American citizens unless their parents are,” Stock said. “And its unclear what the new rule is going to be, but there’s going to be some calculation about how worthy your parents are and then depending on how worthy your parents are you would be a citizen or maybe not a citizen … People would knock out their least favored group of people.”
In an interview with the Homer News, Stock reponded to several questions on a variety of issues.
Q: Would you be likely to support Democrats or Republicans?
A: I’m running as an independent so that means I don’t have to listen to either party. I can pick the best ideas from whatever source.
Q: Do you feel the federal government is meddling in Alaska too much, too little, or the right amount?
A: People don’t realize there’s a great dysfunction in Washington right now. The legislative branch of the government is broken and because the legislative branch is broken they’re not filling vacancies in the courts and so the judicial branch is also broken and what’s happened is the executive branch is filling the vacuum right now. One of the reasons I’m running is to go to Washington and do my job as a senator. Our senators are not currently doing what the people of Alaska hired them to do. They’re not passing legislation, they’re not holding hearings, they’re not passing a budget, they’re not authorizing use of force, they’re not doing all these basic tasks laid out in the Constitution and those tasks are the responsibility, according to the Constitution, of Congress. Congress isn’t doing those things. Instead what senators and congressmen are doing is spending all their time raising money, which is not one of the tasks that they’re supposed to be doing according to the Constitutional text. So one of the reasons I’m running is to restore the Constitutional balance so we don’t have accusations of the executive overreach because the executive will no longer have to be doing the job of the other two branches of government.
Q: Should there be more support for military in Alaska, particularly Coast Guard presence?
A: I’m a strong supporter of the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard is one of the five armed services. It doesn’t always get press as much as the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Marine Corp, but for Alaskans the Coast Guard is incredibly important. It provides life saving missions, all kinds of enforcement missions related to the ocean, immigration, it supports checks on folks who might be entering Alaska from foreign countries. Coast Guard just does an incredible range of operations up here that are critical to Alaskans. I think we ought to be buying ice cutters for the Arctic. That’s been a terrible deficiency that has not been rectified in 12 years of Murkowski. It’s been obvious for more than 15 years now that we need more ice cutters in the Arctic and Congress has failed to fund them. It’s embarrassing. We’re a superpower and we apparently have money for all sorts of things like obsolete intercontinental missile systems but we have no money for vital national security assets like ice cutters for the Arctic that we could put to immediate use and would make a huge difference immediately.
Q: In Homer we have been told we are going to lose one of our cutters in the upcoming 5-10 years and the newer cutters that could replace it are bigger, so Homer would need a bigger harbor. Would you support federal funding to help build a bigger harbor?
A: I would support that based on the cost-benefit analysis. It might make sense to have different size cutters for different missions. I’d rather not have just one cutter. I’d like to see a range of them up here. We have an incredibly large coastline in Alaska and we should be funding more assets for the Coast Guard and that might include of a mix of vessels depending on what their missions going to be and what they’re doing. … It’s a Pentagon budget issue because the money’s going to come from the Department of Defense for cutters. It’s not going to come from the state of Alaska.
Q: How would you address growing gun violence?
A: First thing I’d do is repeal the law that prohibits the Center for Disease Control from studying gun violence. I think it’s ridiculous that we have a law that prohibits us from learning causes and the solutions for gun violence. I got a masters (degree) in public administration and my emphasis when I look at a problem is give me a cost-benefit analysis on this thing and you need facts. You need science to figure that out. You can’t just rely on gut instincts and your whims. You need the data and in order to figure out solutions to vexing problems you need data and if you’re preventing the Center for Disease Control from gathering the data and looking at it, you’re not going to solve the problem. It’s like vehicle deaths, highway deaths. They let them study that as a result we lowered the deaths on highways to a great extent because we figured out safety measures.
Q: Alaska has issues with health insurance — our rates are going up and a lot of providers are not willing to cover Alaskans. How do you think the federal government can address this?
A: There’s a lot of ways we can address this and that’s one of my top priorities when I reach the Senate. I’m a small business owner so I’m very familiar with how the Affordable Care Act is playing out in Alaska and I’ve seen the progress or lack of progress on it. It was originally a Republican idea. It was supposed to be a market-based solution that would prevent us from going to socialized medicine for our healthcare. What’s happening is Republicans are actually undercutting the law by encouraging people not to sign up for insurance. And of course we have a cost problem.
When they introduced the Affordable Care Act they didn’t address the cost issues at all. They tried to make sure everybody got insurance but they didn’t address the cost and because we don’t have enough younger, healthier people signing up for insurance right now they’re been a bias towards more unhealthy, injured people buying insurance on the private exchange and that’s creating a catch-22 where the premiums keep skyrocketing. The premiums now on the private exchange are higher than the penalty you have to pay if you don’t buy insurance and that incentivizes people not to buy insurance now if they’re healthy. There’s no reason to do it. You might as well pay the penalty fee if you’re healthy. We have to fix that and there’s a couple ways we can do that.
We have to allow insurance to cross state lines. Right now it doesn’t. You’re stuck with whatever private insurer covers your state and we only have one right now that’s on the private exchanges and that’s Blue Cross. So the system can’t work the way it was designed if there’s only one company providing insurance. That’s not a market-based solution. That’s a monopoly. The other thing we have to do is go back and take a hard look at cost and we have to give the government when it is the negotiator in the healthcare system the ability to negotiate costs. This is particularly important with drug prices. We shouldn’t have situations that happened the other day with the EpiPen. Corporate profits are taking precedent over people’s lives and that’s what’s happening. Nobody’s controlling the cost right now so they’re charging what the market will bear and if they have the monopoly they can charge the moon because you’re stuck. The government’s going to have to step in and negotiate at least the government provided healthcare.
I’m not in favor of repealing it. My opponent Senator Murkowski has said she wants to repeal it and replace it with nothing or alternatively she wants to replace it with a complicated, unworkable voucher system and I’m totally against that. I think we should fix the bill. I don’t think we should repeal it and replace it with nothing. That would deprive thousands of Alaskans of their health insurance and that’s not right. There’s also other things we can do. We can expand Medicare and allow people in their 50s to buy into Medicare. … Moving to folks that are younger who can’t get healthcare on the private exchange might make sense. Theoretically if you can adjust things, then you can lower the premium to the point where the younger people can afford to buy on the private exchanges. It’s going to take a lot of tinkering with the bill.
Anna Frost can be reached at email@example.com.