Rep. Sarah Vance (R-Homer) poses for a photo on June 12, 2020, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Hannah Vance)

Rep. Sarah Vance (R-Homer) poses for a photo on June 12, 2020, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Hannah Vance)

Candidate Q&A: Sarah Vance

Vance looks for another term in the Alaska House of Representatives

Incumbent Rep. Sarah Vance (R-Homer) is hoping to continue her service in Juneau after completing her freshman term in the Alaska House of Representatives.

Vance, who defeated former Rep. Paul Seaton in 2018, is running for re-election in the November election. Her most recent term was her first foray into Alaska politics and her first experience as an elected official.

As she has in the past, Vance is running on a platform that includes advocating for a Permanent Fund Dividend given out according to the formula established in 1986. In this round of campaigning, Vance has also pushed for a more strict constitutional spending cap. She also opposes election systems which would put a greater focus on mail-in voting.

Vance has raised $16,269 so far in the campaign specifically for the general election, according to a 30-day report filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission on Oct. 5. She had raised just over $41,00 for the primary election, for an overall campaign total of $57,335, according to APOC.

Some of the larger contributions in the most recent 30-day report come from the Conoco Phillips PAC ($1,000), the Republican Women of Juneau ($1,000), the Alaska Republican Party ($3,000) the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club ($750) and the Mat Su Republican Women’s Club ($500).

According to the 30-day report, Vance spent about $27,500 on radio advertising in August, and $4,500 on digital ads in August and September.

Question: What made you want to run for the Alaska House of Representatives again?

Answer: Growing up in Homer has instilled in me a deep love for our state. I want to bring back the character of small-town Alaska that is safe, vibrant, and bursting with opportunity. I am running for re-election to Alaska State House to continue the work I was elected to do: to fight for the will of the people, follow the law and pursue good governance. Some of my priorities include a stronger constitutional spending cap, election integrity and restoring the Permanent Fund Dividend while working to address abandoned vehicles and human trafficking awareness. There is still much more work to be done in advancing Alaska and am asking for your vote by Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Q: Other than issues caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, what do you see as the three biggest issues currently facing the state of Alaska?

A: The three largest issues facing Alaska are a struggling economy, an unsustainable state budget, and substance abuse that is the root cause of so may social issues plaguing our state. We cannot begin to solve any one of these issues without addressing the other that includes a long-term, sustainable approach. I have heard from so many people across Alaska who are struggling and in need of hope. Working to address these issues head-on will empower us to move toward a brighter future.

Q: What is your position/philosophy on how to balance a state budget?

A: The operating budget should focus on rebuilding our economy to allow growth in the private sector while providing essential services. Strengthening our constitutional spending cap to restrain the growth of government will compel us to find efficiencies, adjust formulas and remove programs that are not fulfilling the needs of Alaskans. Using a waterfall metric to prioritize the budget by constitutional requirements, then statutory, and finally discretionary, which leaves savings for short-term relief.

Q: Do you support a full Permanent Fund Dividend as set in the 1986 formula?

A: I support a full, statutory dividend using the original formula as established in 1986 because it has worked flawlessly for so many years and remains the will of the people to preserve it. Permanent Fund Defender, Dr. Jack Hickel, shares our formula with nations around the globe to maximize their resources for the benefit of the people because it can raise people out of poverty. Studies have shown that nothing else stimulates the Alaskan economy as efficiently and equally as the Permanent Fund Dividend. The formula is not broken and is sustainable for years to come if we will preserve it and follow the law. Alaska’s natural resources are our birthright, and the PFD is our inheritance. I have and will continue to vote for a full, statutory PFD because it belongs to the People of Alaska.

The amount of the PFD was never a political discussion until former Gov. Bill Walker vetoed the distribution of the dividend. Prior to that time, the dividend was always calculated according to the formula and would fluctuate year to year. It is only the past few years that legislators chose to ignore the law to pay for government services before distribution of the dividend. If the Permanent Fund were not so easily accessible to the Legislature, would they not have to find a different way to balance the budget? So many people have lost jobs, businesses, and potentially could lose their homes; how could I, in good conscience, withhold the people’s share of the resource without first exhausting every other possibility to create a sustainable budget?

Q: Which state departments or areas of state spending, if any, do you see as being able to be cut in the next budget cycle? Please be specific.

A: The Legislature has kicked the can down the road so long that there is no silver bullet to solve our fiscal crisis. It will take us turning every dial to balance the budget and should involve every Alaskan in the conversation about our future. Alaska has added numerous programs over the years that are not producing a return on investment or the expense has exceeded the benefit. One such example is the University of Alaska has been asked by the Legislature for more than a decade to consolidate its services to provide a quality education for Alaskans. Their resistance has reduced instruction to merely 16% of their budget and allowed the UAF campus to cost twice as much per student as the Anchorage or Kachemak Bay Campuses. I voted to increase the funding to community campuses and trade schools to focus on jobs, while reducing the overall university budget. I believe we should encourage every department to be more efficient with their resources, reduce programs that are not performing well and adjust formulas to better provide for the needs of Alaskans.

Q: What is your stance on introducing a statewide tax to Alaska (either an income tax or a sales tax)?

A: The people of this district continue to vote no to increase taxes and oppose additional taxes, therefore I stand with the will of the people. As legislators, we must be diligent in adjusting formulas and finding efficiencies to get the most out of every state dollar before proposing taxes to balance the budget. I am open to continuing the conversation to a long-term path to economic stability.

Q: How do you plan to help the House and Senate achieve cooperation when it comes to passing a budget?

A: Opposing a binding caucus that commits a legislator to vote yes to a budget without first seeing the bill is the first step to true cooperation. The budget should involve the collaboration of every district, not just a few who rule in leadership of a binding caucus. I am committed to working with every legislator who wants long-term solutions to a sustainable budget.

Q: What is your position on the proposed Pebble Mine project?

A: I am a proponent of responsible resource development and have afforded the Pebble Project the opportunity to prove if they can meet the requirements of our strict permitting process. Honesty and integrity are vital to responsible resource development for Alaskans, and Pebble leadership has proven they inflate and abuse relationships with elected officials. If they make it through the federal process, I will work hard to hold the administration accountable for Pebble’s adherence to our state’s permitting as well.

Q: What is your favorite book and why?

A: My favorite books are the most read, best sellers of all time: The Bible and U.S. Constitution. Every time I read them, I learn something new about life, liberty, and good governance.

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