I’ve lived in Alaska for over 43 years. In that time my wife Tina and I have raised two kids, built four houses, run six fishing boats and — with your support — I have served this district for 16 years. I’m running again because I care about the future of this great state. I think about my son Rand and his wife Lauren, who are building a home here. They run my fish tender business in the summer and Rand is a middle school teacher. Our children deserve a future with a stable economy, sustainable fisheries, and strong schools.
We’ve suffered difficult times with the epidemic of opioid abuse. It is a product of the healthcare system and solutions have to start there. The state of Alaska is suing Big Pharma for telling the medical profession that these drugs were not addictive. When the private sector didn’t step up to change prescribing practices, I worked to pass smart changes to help limit access to opioids.
Drug addiction has stimulated this crime wave that we’re all reeling from. Some of the crime increase comes from design flaws in SB 91 like automatic release and elimination of jail time for class C felonies. The Senate slashed the public safety budget because they thought we’d save money with SB 91. When those savings didn’t materialize, cuts to public safety, corrections, and the court system made the crime problems spiral out of control. We passed three bills to fix these problems.
My four-pillar plan for the budget retained more options for oil tax reform, smart budget cuts, lower oil tax credits, and a broad-based tax. The House passed this plan but the only thing the Senate would consider was SB26, also known as PFD reduction. Cuts to the PFD became necessary just to pass a budget this past year because even spending the last of our state’s savings would not have balanced the budget.
Why so much talk about the budget? Continued deficits will make it impossible to address other challenges like the crime wave, building needed capital projects, and stimulating business. We are going to have work across the aisle to craft a solution to the biggest problem facing all of Alaska. It’s going to take cooperation and compromise, but that’s what the people of District 31 expect from their Legislature. We weathered this drop in oil prices by using our savings accounts. If we don’t make changes to oil taxes, we won’t be able to build those back up when prices recover.
My vision for Alaska includes implementing a ‘wellness’ model of healthcare that addresses all of the dimensions of well-being and keeps people healthy instead of just treating illness. This is also a way to reduce the high costs of healthcare. I believe in a model of education that starts with kids ready to learn when they enter kindergarten, and graduates high schoolers ready to enter college, start a career, or train in the trades. Climate change has many unknown factors, but we can balance our development of traditional resources with green energy jobs that hire locals and lower the cost of heating our homes in the winter.
I appreciate the trust you have shown in me over 16 years. I work hard to listen to you and keep you informed and engaged with my weekly session newsletter. There is more work yet to do to ensure that Alaska is the best place to live and grow. I ask for your vote to help Alaska move forward.