With the countdown to Alaska’s primary election winding down, candidates for governor are making the rounds to all corners of the state, including Homer.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Hawkins pitched himself for Gov. Bill Walker’s job on June 7 at Don Jose’s restaurant in Homer. He explained the issues he’s most passionate about before taking questions from the small crowd gathered there.
One of Hawkins’ biggest focuses as governor, he said, would be to address the “crime wave” which he attributed to Senate Bill 91, the sweeping crime reform bill that critics say created a “revolving door” for criminals in and out of jail. Hawkins wants to repeal the bill and said the Legislature will “basically have to start over.”
He advocated getting creative when it comes to penalties for crimes.
Hawkins is also running on a platform of getting Alaska’s “fiscal house in order.” By that, he explained, he means to further cut government spending. He also advocated for a spending cap to combat what he called the “drunken sailor syndrome.”
He also said that, as governor, he would work to raise the Permanent Fund Dividend to the $1,700-$1,800 range.
“My position on the dividend is that we can raise it significantly,” Hawkins said. “We can sustain a much higher dividend, especially if we do that hard work of cutting the budget.”
Hawkins said one way to accommodate this increased PFD amount would be to lengthen the time it takes to receive it. He suggested raising the required time before an Alaska resident is eligible for the PFD from one year to two.
“We’re way too lenient with the PFD,” he said, suggesting that the state could also revoke the PFD for those convicted of non-violent crimes.
Hawkins also said that families with large numbers of children are likely to move to the state in order to benefit from the annual payment.
“We don’t want to be a magnet state,” Hawkins said, referring to people on welfare.
Another major talking point for Hawkins was boosting Alaska’s economy. He said he wants to capitalize on oil opportunities and “fill the pipeline.” He is also a strong supporter of mining projects.
When asked about his stance on the proposed Pebble Mine and how it would affect the local commercial fishing industry, Hawkins said he’s concerned that “it might not be the right mine in the right place.”
“We have to respect the science,” he said.
Hawkins pointed to his background in business as something that will allow him to make tough budget cuts, and to be able to wrangle the state legislators.
“You’ve got 60 cats you’ve got to herd,” he said. “Twenty in the Senate and 40 in the House.”
Among the slew of other Republican candidates for governor are former state senator Mike Dunleavy and former Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell.
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