Progressive, moderate groups meet, strategize

With Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor and Homer City Council elections behind them, and elections for the Alaska House of Representatives and Senate ahead, several progressive and moderate groups seek to organize and pool resources for future political involvement.

The “Multi-Group Meeting of Progressives and Like-Minded Folks” took place for the greater part of the afternoon on Saturday at the Kachemak City Community Center. Among the groups to introduce themselves and give a short presentation were the Gulf Coast Democrats of Alaska, Progressive Women, Stand for Salmon, JustPeaceHomer, No Labels and Citizens AKtion Network (CAN). Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer) also spoke about his goals in the Alaska House as well as the outlook of the next legislative session.

From niche interest groups like Stand for Salmon to broad political organizations like CAN, the groups’ representatives talked about their own political leanings and goals, as well as their involvement in the Homer community. CAN, for example, was active in spreading educational information during the city’s recall election and the recent city council election.

A large focus of the meeting was the joining together and networking of different progressive groups on the peninsula. Speakers emphasized the sharing of information between organizations and the importance of pooling resources when it comes to tackling future policy initiatives or elections.

Groups like the Gulf Coast Democrats also discussed how to coordinate with lower peninsula groups to help bring out more progressive and moderate voters in the central peninsula districts during elections.

In a video-conferenced presentation from Jay Parmely and Casey Steineau, the executive director and state chair for the Alaska Democratic Party, respectively, the groups learned the party’s goals for 2018. Chief among them, the pair said, is protecting the House’s majority coalition made up of 17 Democrats, two independents and three Republicans that include Seaton. The coalition is down one member now that Rep. Dean Westlake (D-Kiana), has resigned amid sexual harassment allegations, a move he announced Friday, Dec. 15.

In his presentation, Seaton told participants the coalition had asked Westlake to step down.

Parmley and Steineau, who were supposed to present at the meeting in Homer in person, remained in Anchorage in part to deal with the fallout of that resignation. To replace the representative for District 40, the Alaska Democratic Party has 21 days from Westlake’s resignation to submit the names of three candidates to Gov. Bill Walker, who will select the next seat holder.

Another focus of the meeting that was mentioned several times by Taz Tally, who helped organize the meeting, was figuring out steps the groups could take to support progressive or moderate candidates, especially Seaton, during upcoming elections. The meeting attendees discussed how they would participate in upcoming Democratic caucuses and elections before moving on to talking about policy initiatives they’d like to support. The local Democratic caucus will be held from 6-8 p.m. on March 16, 2018.

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