In a bid for what would be his freshman term in state office, John Cox of Anchor Point is throwing his hat into the race for the Alaska Senate District P seat.
He’s running against incumbent Sen. Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak) in the August primary election, in the Republican Party.
Cox, who is originally from Panama, ran for the Republican nomination for the House of Representatives District 31 seat in 2018, a race Rep. Sarah Vance (R-Homer) ultimately won. He also ran for District 31 in 2016 in the Republican primary, losing to former Rep. Paul Seaton.
Cox says he grew up in a household that was primarily Democrat, but that he began to change his views after joining the U.S. Navy and during the Ronald Reagan presidency. It was then that he realized he valued a financially conservative outlook.
As a candidate, Cox said he is in favor of limited government, financial responsibility, and doing away with what some politicians are calling the binding caucus. In Alaska, when the House and Senate majorities form caucuses, they agree to vote together on the budget and some other matters.
If elected, Cox said his focuses would be working toward a balanced budget, utilizing more of Alaska’s natural resources like mining, and working to end homelessness.
Asked why he’s running again, this time for the Senate, Cox said “there still need to be some corrections made in Juneau.”
His biggest critique is that the state is spending too much money — specifically, more than it’s bringing in by way of revenues. He used the analogy of a household budget, and the need to keep it balanced.
“What’s happening is Juneau is squandering the state’s budget, squandering its funds for programs that are not necessarily essential,” Cox said.
Cox was not specific about what programs are not necessarily essential, but said that anything beyond what the state is constitutionally required to provide for — health, safety, education etc. — is not a necessary program, Cox said. Even though people may need such services, the state can’t afford them right now, he said.
He said that before any project or program can get the green light, legislators first have to answer the question of how they’re going to pay for it. If that can’t be answered, the program or service should not be developed, Cox said.
Cox does not support additional revenue sources such as a statewide income tax or sales tax, and favors additional cuts and reductions to the budget. He said he fears that people who make larger amounts of money in Alaska will leave if statewide taxes are instituted.
One suggestion Cox floated to save the state money is only calling the Legislature into session ever other year. Since the governor has the power to call a special session, emergency situations that cropped up during off years could still be taken care of, he said.
“If you can’t plan a two-year budget, factoring in the rate of inflation to compensate, then you have no business dealing with finances for the state,” Cox said.
Cox also advocated for getting the state “out of” of the Alaska Marine Highway System. He had said the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is one of the sectors the state is required to fund, but said the ferry system is not something the state should be running. Cox suggested privatizing one route to start with to see how it went, before moving to contract the entire system out.
Cox supports a traditional statutory formula for the Permanent Fund Dividend, saying that a higher PFD injects more money into local economies around the state.
“We need to get the statutory formula enshrined into the constitution so that we do not go back through this issue again,” he said.
Cox said he believes a lot of the state’s issues with homelessness and addiction could be solved by ensuring people got larger amounts for the PFD. By increasing that amount, more people would have the means to get off the streets, he said.
Cox also said he supports more state spending on programs to combat addiction and homelessness and to support mental health.
“We can get this done by reallocating funds in the state to that area,” he said.
Cox is asking voters to “look at what’s going on right now in the state of Alaska.”
“You can vote for the other guy, that’s fine,” he said. “But his way is going to run us into a deficit that’s unbelievable.”
Cox said, if it turns out he’s wrong about how to balance the budget, then it won’t be much different than what constituents have already.
Those interested in more information about Cox’s campaign can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit his Facebook page or visit his website, johncox4senate.com.
Reach Megan Pacer at email@example.com.