In a second run at the Republican Party nomination for the Alaska House of Representative District 31 seat, Anchor Point resident John Cox seeks to do what he failed in 2016: come in first in a pack of three candidates.
Last time, Cox came in second to incumbent Rep. Paul Seaton, beating former Homer Mayor Beth Wythe despite her strong campaign chest and splitting the conservative vote. This time, with Seaton running alone as a nonpartisan in the Democratic Party, Cox might have a chance to face Seaton directly.
Cox has a modest campaign account of $5,400, according to his Alaska Public Offices Commission report ending July 21. All of that comes from personal or business donations, many retirees, with the highest donations no more than $500. He has spent $4,200.
Born in Panama, Cox, 60, has the military bearing of a career U.S. Navy veteran. Retiring as a chief, the highest rank of an enlisted sailor, Cox served on aircraft carriers and as an instructor in SERE — survival, evasion, resistance and escape. He’s president of the Anchor Point Veterans of Foreign Wars, and earned his combat vet status by serving in war zones for every action since Vietnam. In the Navy, one job Cox had was to counsel sailors about drug and alcohol abuse. He also helped them get a handle on their finances when they got heavy in debt.
“I would set them down, … go over their books, their bills,” he said. “I would set up a reasonable spending plan for them.”
Cox would put that kind of financial sense to use in state government, he said.
“I think that’s something we desperately need in the state of Alaska right now, where politics is not involved, it’s common sense and the understanding of money,” Cox said.
He’d also put another understanding to work, but a more hard-earned one. The former owner of The Smoke Shop, a tobacco store on the main drag in Anchor Point, Cox closed his business after a burglar broke in and stole about $30,000 in product, a hit he couldn’t absorb. Cox took a risk and didn’t have theft insurance. The cops caught the perp, and he’s now awaiting trial in federal court.
That experience led Cox to oppose Senate Bills 91 and 54, changes in criminal justice system designed to focus more on rehabilitation and keep low-level convicts out of prison, and that lowered to misdemeanors some offenses that previously had been felonies.
“They caught the guy,” Cox said of the man who robbed him. “But the guy’s walking the streets. It’s worse because everyone in the community knows who did it.”
Cox said SB 91 sets low bail for some defendants, or none at all, making it easy for them to get out and commit crimes again.
“That’s why it’s become a revolving door in the criminal system,” Cox said. “That’s why the judges, the troopers, the police are frustrated as well. People take it out on them — it’s not their fault.”
Cox supports term limits and thinks longtime incumbents like Seaton should retire earlier. In the Navy, he said he wondered why postings were never more than a few years, but now sees the wisdom in that.
“After you’ve been in a position so long, your peripheral vision becomes myopic,” Cox said. “This is they way we do it, have done it.’”
The Republican Party race comes down to experience, Cox said, something he thinks he has over Vance.
“Do you hire a person who has business experience in management, i.e., leadership skills, financial experience, an understanding of checks and balances, or do you hire someone who has just theoretical experience?”
Reach Michael Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Homer News sent three questions to each District 31 candidate. Answers are printed exactly as received.
1) What is the biggest issue facing Alaska and how would you address it?
1. The biggest issue facing our state is our budget! We as Alaskans are faced with our Legislators feckless spending habits. The biggest killer of our capital budget is the operational budget. The capital budget is currently being used to pay for the operating budget. To put our current fiscal problems in check we must cap the operational budget. Limit it to about 4.1 billion with an adjust for inflation. If we keep things in check and balance as well as cutting the spending by about 10% across the board and focus on what the main Constitutional responsibilities of the Legislators in the manor of spending and finance, we can balance the books in just a few years. With that mind set there would no reason to implement a tax on wages, sales, property or on social security. Currently the Boroughs or Municipalities have a tax system in place. If a State tax is implemented it will take away from the Boroughs or Municipalities. Which in turn would require Boroughs to raise their taxes. The problem with a tax is once the Legislators come up with a new source of income / funding they will develop a new program or entitlement for Alaskans. In turn those programs will develop and grow. Thus, the program will require more money. When it requires more money, it requires a source of income. I.e. taxes.
2) What approach would you take to the state budget and the fiscal gap: a) maintain status quo with $1.7 billion paid for outof Permanent Fund earnings and a PFD cap of $1,600, b) set no cap on PFD. (If so, how would you either find other revenue tofund government or cut the budget?) or c) some other approach?
2. I do not want to maintain the status quo. The status quo is morally wrong as well as social injustice to the people. What the Legislators did was outright stealing from the people of what is rightfully theirs. So, to steal from the people because legislators were reckless in the management of State funds and lacked the basic mathematic skills to balance a check book is not the fault of the people. The people should not pay the price because of the legislators’ reckless forethought. If I am elected it is my intention to refunds that which was taken in 2015, 16, 17, and 18 back to the people of Alaska. What voters may not understand is that the PFD funds taken over the years has not been used to balance or meet obligations as per the Governor. Those funds are sitting in the bank collecting interest. Those earnings should be dispersed back to Alaskans as well. Again, the answer to question is to cap the operating budget, maintain a strict fiscal plan, get oil back into the pipe line, and move certain project / programs into the private sector.
3) What is your vision for Alaska?
3. My vision for Alaska is simple. It is the Alaska that most of us once remember. The days where the fish were plenty, and crime was nowhere on the radar. A place where we once were able to leave you house with out having to lock it. A place where you could leave your keys in the ignition and know your car will still be there when you return. Were wealth and prosperity being a common place. Where there were jobs for all. Well-paying jobs. Not just some minimum wage where we struggle to make ends meet. Jobs where you could afford to raise a family. All of this can happen once again! We just need to get politics, and money out of the decisions made by our Government which affect our lives.