Names have deep roots

I have considerable reservations about Rep. Paul Seaton’s decision to join with Alaska House Democrats to form a coalition majority, but I’ve been overly critical of party disloyalty in the past and need to apologize especially to him for how I went about the matter of voicing my dissatisfaction. Please allow me to try again.

I was Fritz Creek Precinct committeeman in the mid-1990s when Paul first began to show interest in joining the Republican Party. Because he’d been quite involved with Democrats in his past I was encouraged to discourage him from participating. I wouldn’t discourage him and caught flak for it. When he decided to run for the House seat I encouraged him and caught flak for it again. I encouraged Paul’s participation because I didn’t see how the party would draw people into the sphere of its principles if the door was only open to those who held a strict party line in their political beliefs.

But there has to be a line of demarcation, if you will, that is drawn for how one represents the name that got him or her to where they are in life. I can best explain what I mean with this example.

A number of years ago I was working for a construction contractor as a field mechanic. We were working in the villages of Port Graham and Nanwalek. One of the construction crew commented on how interconnected the people in the villages were. Everyone seemed to be related to each other. I stated that I’d been born and raised into a very similar community situation. He didn’t believe me.

I told him about the interconnected ties between two families, the Paul H Miller family and the Paul Hershberger family. My father, Paul Howard or Paul H, always included his middle initial in mailing addresses because there were other Paul Millers in the community. Former Homer Mayor Jim “Judge” Hornaday and Paul W Miller would carpool in the days when Jim was in law school at the University of Iowa and the Hornaday family lived in Kalona. I know that Paul W. His wife, Anna May, is my father’s first cousin on his mother’s side. There was also a Paul W Miller family in the neighboring community of Wellman. The children are my third cousins through their mother and my father.

Starting from Paul Hershberger’s oldest:

1. Ed married my mother’s first cousin, Marge Miller (my mother’s maiden name was Miller as was her mother’s and grandmother’s);

2. Dave married my mother’s sister, Miriam;

3. John married Sally Miller who’s my father’s third cousin. Sally’s sister, Alma, married a John Hershberger too, not the same one of course. Sisters married men with the same first and last names (fun trivia);

4. Edna never married;

5. Paul Jr. married Ruth Bontrager whose older sister, Miriam, married my first cousin on my father’s side, Dave Miller. So I have a Dave and Miriam (Hershberger) on my mother’s side and a Dave and Miriam (Miller) on my father’s side;

6. Marvin married Paulette Miller (a twin to another Paul Miller) who’s my third cousin once removed on my father’s side;

7. Nelson married my first cousin on my father’s side, Sue Miller, who’s Dave’s sister; and

8. Erma Jean married Mark Miller who’s my third cousin on my father’s side.

By the time I was done explaining this to my fellow construction worker I could tell the wheels were turning in his mind but they weren’t getting traction. It does boggle the mind. I’m very blessed to have the heritage I have.

I share this because those of us who care about this community and have had long-term involvement here are just as interconnected in the emotional sense as I am in the physical sense with my genetic family, interconnections that are deeply rooted to those who helped emotionally shape us into the person we’ve become.

I’m not suggesting that emotional ties are exactly the same as genetic ones or that political ties are the same as
emotional ones, but there are similarities that are easy to overlook at times and the ties are much interwoven. In a situation involving close-knit, long-term community involvement we don’t have liberty to claim that where we stand in it is only a product of our own effort. There’s a certain amount of loyalty that’s due.

As far as politics go, I believe the line of demarcation is in honestly choosing the name that best fits your core political beliefs and then to represent well the name that has brought you political life.

I’m not opposed to political coalitions if they truly are based on a balance of differing political philosophies that work together to find common ground. So we’ll see where this new Alaska House coalition goes. I need to give it a chance. I was generally supportive of the coalition that our Sen. Gary Stevens was a part of when he was Senate president from 2009-2012. However, during that time I never lost confidence that Gary was a Republican at heart. I never lost faith that he would represent well the name that got him to where he was and is as a Senate Republican and community representative.

Longtime Homer resident Leonard Miller writes that the community of Homer began to become rooted in his “emotional heart in 1983 when he left Iowa for the new adventure of Alaska. His wife, Laura, and he moved here to stay in 1987 and all their three children were born and raised here.”