Throughout Alaska political campaigns, in the campaigns for governor, the votes of senior citizens of our state are usually courted and asked for. This year is very different, so perhaps 130,000 seniors should wonder why?
The anti-senior actions of the Dunleavy administration give us a clue. Attempts by the Department of Administration (under former commissioner Kelly Tshibaka) to close six DMV offices that would deny seniors local access and impose large fees is an example. Although defeated by representatives from all political parties, the intent to use seniors as a vehicle to line the pockets of friendly private groups appeared to be the administration’s intent.
Another administration action, which directly harmed over 4,000 senior citizens, was the cutting of senior benefits by 50% to our most vulnerable citizens. In a time of record inflation and skyrocketing utility costs, the Dunleavy DHSS commissioner chose to cut senior benefits and use those same funds for “other needs,” such as splitting the DHSS into two divisions, salaries and “undefined uses.” The governor signed this budget cut to seniors, with no remorse.
Add to that the failure to fund needed increases to the state’s Pioneer Home program. The pioneers’ homes are an affordable retirement facility for those who helped make Alaska what it is today. Yet, the Dunleavy administration said NO to the needs of our seniors. At a capacity of only 500, full and a long waiting list, the Dunleavy administration’s blind eye toward our senior citizens is a true “slap in the face” and abandonment of our senior citizens. There are 130,000 seniors in Alaska, why does the administration believe that a capacity of 500 is a good thing?
Well, we know the current administrations view toward seniors, but what about the other candidates? Where is Bill Walker and where is Les Gara on the needs of our senior citizens? Will Dunleavy reverse course and demand his commissioners immediately support our senior citizens? He has the political ability; does he have the will?
What is your position Former Gov. Bill Walker?
What is your position Les Gara?
At Seniors of Alaska, we encourage ALL senior citizens, regardless of party preference to ask questions and vote for the candidate that supports our senior community. Yes, you can make a difference.
When 130,000 seniors speak, candidates will listen.
Alaskans can support Seniors of Alaska with donations at: https://secure.anedot.com/seniors-of-alaska/donate.
Peter Zuyus is executive director of Seniors of Alaska, a nonprofit organization consisting of Alaska seniors and established to represent Alaska senior citizen perspectives and to guarantee their equitable treatment by municipal, borough and state agencies. For more, visit www.seniorsofalaska.org.