On Tuesday, Nov. 8, elections will be held for U.S. House and Senate, Alaska Legislature and the Alaska governor.
To help inform voters, the Homer News is spotlighting local races. Last week, we introduced the southern peninsula candidates for House District 6 and Senate District C.
This week we are featuring House District 6 candidates’ answers to a group of questions. Incumbent Sarah Vance, R-Homer, is being challenged by Homer residents Louie Flora and Ginger Bryant.
1. Suppose you are governor and you have a majority in the State Senate and House that would support you on a budget. How would you craft a budget (including an Alaska Permanent Fund dividend) in the face of shifting revenues from petroleum and permanent fund earnings? What options would you consider, such as new revenues (income or sales taxes), cuts in services, or adjustments to the dividend? In other words, how would you solve the issue of a long-term sustainable fiscal plan?
I favor implementing a large portion of the recommendations of the 2021 Fiscal Policy Working Group. Unfortunately, the legislative leadership of the House Coalition never brought the considerations forward during session, and quickly returned to a bloated budget. My proposal would separate the Permanent Fund Dividend from the budget and return to the traditional transfer as was done prior to the Bill Walker veto.
Necessary components of a long-term fiscal plan would include: a Constitutional, single account Permanent Fund structure, Constitutional certainty for the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD), healthy capital budget, new revenues, budget reductions, spending cap reform, several-year “transition period” with one-time fiscal measures, resilience to fiscal stress, Constitutional Budget Reserve reform all to be implemented as a whole with considerations of what can pass a majority of the legislature and constitutional changes approved by the voters.
Implementing a comprehensive long-term fiscal plan will help provide sustainably for state services and allow legislators to focus on policy that can foster a strong economy. It will be vital to have your public input as to the nuances of this plan so that it bests reflects the size and scope of government services that can be sustained by our economy.
2. How will you vote on Ballot Measure 1, the question of if Alaska should hold a Constitutional Convention? If you support a convention, what would you change or add in the Alaska Constitution?
Consideration of a constitutional convention is a sober decision, but one that should not be feared. The question of a convention is an invitation to be a part of the process to determine your constitutional rights. I am voting Yes to a constitutional convention because I believe in Article I. section 2. All political power is inherent in the people. All government originates with the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the people as a whole. I believe our founders were wise in adding this provision that gives Alaskans the authority to bring accountability to the government that they would never impose upon themselves.
One thing to keep in mind is the decision of a constitutional convention and any changes to it, lies in the hands of the people, not the Legislature. The four steps to change the constitution are outlined in the state constitution and would take several years to implement. Article 8. Section 3. [First] If a majority of the votes cast on the question are in the affirmative, delegates to the convention shall be chosen at the next regular statewide election, unless the legislature provides for the election of the delegates at a special election. [Second:] The lieutenant governor shall issue the call for the convention. [Third:] Unless other provisions have been made by law, the call shall conform as nearly as possible to the act calling the Alaska Constitutional Convention of 1955, including, but not limited to, number of members, districts, election and certification of delegates, and submission and ratification of revisions and ordinances…[Forth] Section 4. Constitutional conventions shall have plenary power to amend or revise the constitution, subject only to ratification [final vote] by the people.
Each year, the Legislature has the entire constitution and statutory law open to add, repeal or amend. The process of a constitutional convention will be similar in nature, except changes can be made by a simple majority. Any changes to the constitution allow you to have final determination of your constitutional rights and must be approved by voters at the ballot box. The question to ask legislative candidates if the ballot measure passes is, will they honor conforming to the Alaska Constitutional Convention of 1955 as nearly as possible. My answer is YES!
Keep in mind that opponents of the convention are opposing you from participating in determining your constitutional rights and those of your children. The question being asked of us today is not much different than what was asked of our founders; will we choose to govern ourselves?
3. Name three issues affecting District 6.
Three constant issues facing district 6 are transportation, affordable housing and workforce development. It would seem the needs in these three areas build upon each other and are in need of a localized, comprehensive plan that can be developed well into the future.
4. How would you address those issues?
1. I have worked on issues from roads, to paths, harbors, trails, bridges, boats and ferries and will continue to prioritize support for infrastructure and maintenance that we can count on! I am proud to have helped secure funding for abandoned vehicle removal, the Homer Deep Water Port Army Corp study, and easement grant for the historic Watermelon Trail, and co-sponsoring bills like the Alaska Marine Highway Operations Board that is creating a long-term plan for sustainable ferry service! I am also part a Transportation Working Group that is drafting a plan for the Kenai Peninsula Borough. We are discussing solutions to transportation needs of a variety of residents, including youth, seniors and those who need transportation for employment from Seward to Seldovia. Reliable, affordable and sustainable means of moving about is foundational to a strong economy, public safety, access to education and healthcare, and ultimately the quality of life we enjoy on the Lower Peninsula.
2. Affordable and available long-term housing has long been a need in Alaska. Reducing burdensome regulation, providing opportunities for locals to harvest and mill timber, providing incentives for employers and opening land to Alaskans will help ease the strain on the market. I am highly supportive of the proposal to allow individuals the option to choose land in leu of a Permanent Fund Dividend. This idea could open opportunities for residents to build homes that would in turn, generate property tax revenue for municipalities while ultimately providing a lasting asset to Alaskan families.
3. In addition to reliable transportation and affordable housing, the business community has expressed the need for workforce development in almost every industry. Our most immediate need is to have workers who can commit to the job who are willing to learn the skills necessary to succeed. I co-sponsored HB 71 that helps veterans transition to the workforce quicker by recognizing their miliary training as equivalent in a variety of fields. I am also supportive of the Kenai Peninsula College, AVTEC and creating other industry incentives that focus on providing localized workforce development that support industries that are needed most here on the Kenai Peninsula.
5. If an incumbent, cite three accomplishments you’re proud of during your tenure. If a challenger, what do you think the incumbent didn’t do and what would you attempt to accomplish if elected?
Accomplishments I am most proud is keeping my word to the people of our district, fighting for justice for our most vulnerable, and helping constituents solve local issues. Trust is an integral part of serving in public office, and building that trust begins with being trustworthy. My campaign platforms originate with the priorities of the people and my decisions are based upon foundational principles rather than the ever-changing winds of politics. You can take confidence that when I tell you I am going to do something, I will do everything in my power to deliver results!
Looking back, your top priority when I was first elected was to repeal the soft on crime bill SB 91, and in doing so has reduced crime by 30 percent! Knowing that cases of rape and sexual assault in Alaska are twice the national average, I have continued to support strong policy for victims’ rights. This year, I co-sponsored and helped pass HB 325 that strengthened laws against domestic violence, sexual assault, child pornography, redefined consent in cases of sexual assault, and closed loopholes for sex offenders. The passage of this bill affirms that Alaskan women and children are valued, and that the law will provide justice when they need it most.
Finally, I am proud to work with so many people across our district who allow me to help with projects like advocating for a charter school, providing accountability within the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, and helping get the easement for the historical Watermelon Trail that was stalled in state departments for about 20 years! There are so many issues that do not involve passing legislation that have a direct impact on the quality of life here on the Kenai Peninsula, and it is my pleasure serving you.
6. Name a book published you read or listened to in the last year that impressed you.
I am always impressed and receive great wisdom when I read the book of Proverbs. A verse that recently stands out to me is “Do not withhold good from those to whom it due, when it is in your power to act.” (Proverbs 3:27 NIV) This principle has been my office motto “let me see what I can do for you” whether it is help with your PFD application or a trail project, I am here to serve you!