U.S. lawmakers appear at a standstill on avoiding $85 billion in automatic budget cuts that are to hit the federal government on Friday. The sequester cuts were created by lawmakers and the White House, and were slated to take effect unless they managed to arrive at a compromise U.S. government [...]
By Heidi Zemach for SCN Some 13 Seward residents, the majority of them affiliated with SeaView Community Services or...
Seward has new representation in the Alaska Legislature this year due to redistricting. The new district is N 28. N...
By Heidi Zemach for SCN Seniors lunchroom roundtable. Senior Center photo credit. HB 75, repealing the audit requirement...
Attached is my latest newsletter. (Newsletter 2013.01.29.pdf) It provides an update on the first few weeks of session. I will be sending out regular newsletters during this session and holding several town hall meetings. I look forward to keeping you informed and hearing your thoughts, concerns, and ideas.
Senator Cathy Giessel
Senate District N (House Districts 27 & 28)
Chair Senate Resources Committee
State Capitol, Room 427, Juneau, AK 99801
Office 907 465 4843
Toll free 800 892 4843
By Heidi Zemach for SCN
Newly re-elected State Senator Cathy Giessel was in Seward this (Friday) morning gathering up her campaign signs. She has become part of the newly-forming Republican-led Alaska Senate. She will chair the Senate Resources Committee. It’s a powerful post in view of the importance of oil and gas development in Alaska.
In a press conference after Tuesday’s election, new Senate President Charlie Huggins said the senate’s agenda would be to cut state spending, cut oil taxes to increase production, and spur in-state use of natural gas. The new Senate Majority leader is Sen. John Coghill. Its Rules Chair is Sen. Lesil McGuire. The Finance Co-Chair is Sen. Kevin Meyer, and the Finance Co-Chair is to be Sen. Pete Kelly.
Giessel also will also be on the Ethics Committee, Legisative Council and Arctic Policy Committee. Giessel said she may get one more committee, but the details are still evolving as more senators join.
Moderate Republican Gary Stevens, of Kodiak, the bipartisan Senate coalitions’ former president, and also Seward’s former senate district representative, and moderate republican Senator Bert Stedman have joined the 13-member majority. Stevens, a retired university history professor, will chair the Education Committee, while Stedman will chair Health and Social Services. Stevens led the bipartisan caucus leadership’s efforts to prevent the governor’s proposed annual $2 billion revenue reduction from oil taxes, without tying it to specific guarantees that there would be further oil development if taxes were reduced.
At least one democrat had joined the coalition as of this afternoon.
Newly re-elected House Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, has retained the position of House speaker. The Seward/Moose Pass area is now included in his house district with redistricting. Meanwhile Rep. Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage was selected to be House majority leader. Rep. Craig Johnson, R-Anchorage, will continue to chair the House Rules Committee.
Giessel’s challenger Ron Devon was also busy calling and thanking his supporters this afternoon.
“I would like to thank all of the people who supported me in that area, and I really appreciated all the warmth and hospitality of the people I met and talked to, all the people wanting to do what’s right for Alaska. As far as my future plans go, it’s too early to say, but I really enjoyed the process and learned a lot about the people in the district.
Devon, a newcomer to Alaska politics running as an independent, received some 6,000 votes from Alaskans in District N in the unnofficial vote count. He came out ahead of Giessel in the Seward City/Lowell Point vote count, and also at the Bear Creek polling station and outlying areas including Hope, Girdwood, generally along the road system south of Anchorage, but did not fare as well in the other Kenai Peninsula Borough communities.
The third and fourth grade at Seward Elementary School voted for U.S. President and Vice President in mock elections in their classrooms last week as part of their civics education. They lined up, entered the classroom, and helped poll workers find their names on the list. Then they took their ballots into actual polling booths which were borrowed from the city for the exercise, to mark off their choice. Fifth and sixth grades voted today. It was a tight presidential race at Seward Elementary. At first, it looked like the Obama/Biden ticket would win. But when the upper grades voted, and all votes were tallied,
Romney/Ryan had 73 votes
Obama/Biden had 72.
Absentee In Person Voting is available through November 5, 2012 (M-F, 8-5) at the City Clerk’s office for the entire District 28 area.
General Election Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Lowell Point and City of Seward Voters’ polling location is at the K.M. Rae Building, (Seward Marine Center) 125 Third Avenue:
7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Those living outside City Limits vote at Bear Creek Volunteer Fire Station.
Same day registration is allowed, so even if you are not registered, you can still walk in, register, and vote provided you are an Alaska Resident.
Be sure to bring along an Alaska ID such as a drivers’ license, hunting license, passport.
By Heidi Zemach for SCN
Seward resident’s comparatively small vote must be pretty important to the two State Senate candidates from south Anchorage, both of whom were here looking for votes within the past 24 hours, just days before the Nov 6 election. About 25-30 local Seward residents, among them several educators, showed up to a house party in Forest Acres for State Senate candidate Ron Devon Thursday night. He’s running as an Independent against Republican Incumbent Cathy Giessel for Senate District N. These are his last five days of campaigning in a vast new district that now includes Girdwood, Indian, East Anchorage Hillside, as well as Hope, Cooper Landing, Sterling and Nikiski. His campaign’s first television advertisement features former Republican state senator and GOP gubernatorial candidate Arliss Sturgulewski, and former Democratic state senator and Alaska Constitutional Delegate Vic Fisher. The campaign plans to run television ads on six different broadcast and cable stations in the final days.
“We are very hopeful,” said Katherine Pfeiffer, Devon’s campaign manager. It appears that the momentum for his candidacy has been steadily increasing as Election Day nears, she said. Giessel, a two-year senator, has an established record, and has also made her extreme conservative views known previously on issues such as funding for public education, and the Alaska Permanent Dividend Fund, she said. So attempts to look more moderate on some of the more controversial issues hasn’t worked, she said; “They are on tape.” When Giessel was elected before, no one really knew her views. “But now we know,” she said, echoing the campaign’s ending theme.
His campaign had received positive press in Alaska recently, Devon said. It was partly due to his opponent’s unwillingness be interviewed by the Anchorage and Kenai Peninsula radio and newspaper media lately, and to the recent cancellation of some public speaking engagements. When you refuse to answer questions, reporters don’t like it, and that’s reflected in the articles they write, he said. His wife Jeanne Devon, a writer, runs The Mudflats blog, so he probably knows about that first-hand.
Meanwhile, Giessel was in Seward today (Friday). At noon she attended the Seward Chamber of Commerce’s business luncheon, as she has already once or twice before during this campaign season. While there, she commented on the state-wide bond package, also on the ballot, and its importance to Alaska, saying it is a good time economically to get such bonds now, due to record low interest rates.
Giessel has hit Seward heavily throughout the campaign in a variety of ways, including knocking on doors and attending functions. She also held a meet the constituents party here a while back. Last week she held a poorly-attended, but vigorous town hall at Bear Creek Volunteer Fire Station. Before that Giessel, a nurse practitioner, and her husband volunteered at the Alaska Health Fair at AVTEC much of the day Saturday. Not long before that, Giessel attended all of Kenai Peninsula Borough Rep Sue McClure’s annual constituent meetings, from Lowell Point to Hope, and most communities in between. House Speaker Mike Chenault, R, Nikiski, who is running unopposed for the new house district seat, also went along to those meetings.
Seward Community Library will be showing the 2nd Presidential Debate in the basement of the library at 5 p.m. this evening (Tuesday, Oct 16) All are welcome.
Here are the details:
Topic: Town meeting format including foreign and domestic policy
Air Time: 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York
Sponsor: Commission on Presidential Debates
Participants: President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney
Moderator: Candy Crowley (CNN Chief Political Correspondent)
The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which citizens will ask questions of the candidates on foreign and domestic issues. Candidates each will have two minutes to respond, and an additional minute for the moderator to facilitate a discussion. The town meeting participants will be undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization.
The Seward Community Library will be broadcasting the Presidential Debate at 5:00 p.m. tonight (Oct. 3) in the conference room. If you don’t have cable, this is a great opportunity to make yourself aware of what is going on.
By Heidi Zemach for Seward City News
Five candidates vying for three available two-year seats on the Seward City Council, and two State Senate District N candidates from Anchorage, running for one newly-redistricted seat, fielded questions and debated issues of local and statewide concern on Thursday, Sept 27th’s Meet the Candidates forum. It was sponsored by the Seward Chamber of Commerce. David Kingsland moderated, and Seward High School National Honor Society students took questions, and kept people to their required time limits.
The city municipal election takes place this Tuesday, October 2. The state and presidential election is November 6.
The tone of the event was remarkably civil, especially when compared to national election campaigns. But the forum did allow candidates to tell their views, air their differences, and share some stories about their lives. In the hour-long council segment, the audience could hear Kenny Blatchford’s pain as he talked about his dying mother having to fly out of her own home town for medical care. They heard about Jean Bardarson’s genuine love of numbers, her small-business acumen, and how she and her husband had expanded Spenards, and the Tool Rental store. From Ristine Casagranda, a single mother and businesswoman, they heard how in her wandering youth she had gone from one university to another, and travelled the world before deciding to settle down in the hometown she loved to raise her family.
Incumbents Marianna Keil and Vice Mayor Bardarson spoke about their years of experience on council, how well they work well with one another, and with Casagranda, and their desire to continue the course they’re on, especially with new economic development projects being embarked upon by the city. She has developed good relationships with key players of the Coastal Villages Region Fund and with the Alaska Industrial Export and Development Authority, AIEDA, Bardarson said. Similarly, Casagranda spoke of the “endless potential” that Seward has that she hopes to play a role in.
The new voice, well known by some in the community but less in city council circles, was Kenny Blatchford, a retired Teamster who has served 16 years as president of Qutekcak Native Tribe, and has volunteered on several other boards and nonprofits. Blatchford, an articulate speaker, projected confidence despite the new setting, occasionally peppering his comments with jokes and asides.
Blatchford critiqued the council for raising utility rates on citizens in these challenging economic times, and said the city government needed to be run more efficiently. He believes that grants are available to help conserve energy, and reduce local energy costs. He would be more inclined to prioritize helping local small businesses over large Outside corporations, Blatchford said, at least until dealing with pressing issues such as Seward’s lack of affordable housing, and inadequate or failing water, sewer, and electric infrastructure, he said. Doing so would make then Seward more attractive to private industry interested in moving here, he said.
“I don’t know of anything we can do to reduce the cost of energy to Seward,” Keil said. Both she and Bardarson had reluctantly voted to raise utility rates in order to fund the needed repairs to aging and failing infrastructure, she explained. “We buy power from Chugach, (which sets the price), and we have infrastructure to repair. We can kick the can down the road, and if the lights go out, they go out,” Keil added. But prolonged power outages also would hurt residents and businesses, she warned.
Challenger Tim McDonald, a commercial fisherman and beachside landowner near SMIC with experience in marine issues, also critiqued the council for increasing city fees on residents and businesses. He shared some of his ideas for Seward: reduce utility fees to small businesses by 10-percent during the winter; proactively shore up stream and creek banks in advance of flooding; build another road and bike path leading out of town, and joining the Iditarod trail, so there would not just be one exit during an emergency.
McDonald took Bardarson to task for the city’s approving a lengthy lease extension with Jim Pruitt who runs the Seward Shipyard at SMIC, without first negotiating an adequate return for the earnings he receives with assets that the city and state had purchased. The city’s gross earnings from all of its SMIC leases is only about $144,000 per year currently, he said, although $200 million was invested in the development of SMIC, including $30 million in the shipyard’s Synchrolift alone.
“It wasn’t negotiable. Pruitt wasn’t willing to talk about it,” Bardarson explained. “That’s your job to put it on the table,” McDonald countered. Other ports, for example the San Diego Port Authority where he worked, received 10-24 percent of the slip earnings of private users that lease its marinas. “I don’t perceive a place for Seward to force them to say take it or leave it,” Bardarson replied.
Blatchford also advocated for a full-service hospital in Seward, such as the one we had when he was growing up. “People aren’t born here, and they don’t die here,” he said. “People used to be able to say I was born in Seward, he said. Soon, there won’t be any more people who can say that. How sad is that?”
Keil defended the hospital’s limited care in those areas. Unfortunately, the city can ill afford to equip its hospital with a new neonatal care unit, or hire the anesthesiologists and malpractice insurance required of birthing facilities these days, she said. On the bright side however, growing numbers of babies and young children are coming to Seward, and will continue to do so as long as there are jobs available here, she said.
(Stay tuned for story on the Senate Candidate’s forum later in the week.)
Tonight is a great opportunity to see the people who will make your city’s decisions in the future as they answer generic and more pointed questions, and question one another. Audience members can submit questions, and they will also be taken over the phone. The forum begins at 7:00 pm featuring State Sen. Cathy Giessel, R, and challenger Ron Devon, an Independent, both from Anchorage. One of them will be our representative from the newly redistricted Senate District N. Their segment is slated to run for 45 minutes.
After that, it’s the turn of city council incumbants Ristine Casagranda, Jean Bardarson and Marianna Keil, and their challengers Kenneth Blatchford and Tim McDonald. They will have an hour to make opening and closing statements, take questions, and ask one another challenging questions. The event will be broadcast on GCI cable for those who wish to stay home, out of the rain. But it would be great to see a good turnout tonight, and on election day.
By Heidi Zemach for SCN
Ron Devon, a candidate for State Senate District N, recently qualified by petition to challenge incumbent Republican Senator Cathy Giessel in the November 6 general election. District N is the vast newly-redistricted area of 35,000 that includes Seward, Bear Creek, Moose Pass, Cooper Landing and Hope, Nikiski and Sterling on the Kenai Peninsula plus parts of the South Anchorage hillside, Girdwood, Indian, Bird, and Portage.
With just two months to go before the election, you probably still have not heard his name, seen his signs, nor even met the guy, although he visited earlier this summer. He has returned, and met Thursday evening September 13th with residents at the Resurrect Arts Coffee House and Gallery , and planned to knock on doors across town today before returning again for the Seward Chamber of Commerce’s Sept 27th Candidates Night.
He’s already knocked on 4,000 doors within his district, and has raised some $40,000 for radio and TV spots, and street signs that alone will cost $4,000. But without the better name recognition that his opponent has, he has a long way to go in the next eight weeks. He has some dedicated volunteers, and has thus far garnered the endorsements of some prominent Alaskans including Malcolm Roberts, David Gottstein, Vic Fisher, Katie Hurley and Arliss Sturgulewski.
Devon, a longtime Anchorage small businessman, is running unaffiliated, in keeping with his 25 years as an unaffiliated voter. What he lacks in political experience, he makes up for in an eagerness to change politics as usual in Juneau. “Like most Alaskans, I’m tired of divisive partisan politics. On day one, I’ll roll up my sleeves and work with both parties to get things done,” he said Thursday at the Resurrect Arts, before a small group, most of whom had never met him. Devon says he’s been well received by the majority of people he meets in the district: “Most people at the door, when I tell them I’m unaffiliated, they say ‘good for you.” They’re sick of party politics, and they say, ‘can’t we all work together?’ That’s why I’m running,” Devon said.
Devon went through the public school system, all four of his children are the product of public schools, so Devon is concerned about the trend toward the de-funding of public education and early childhood education programs, and toward privatizing education, which his opponent favors, starting with her support for publically-funded vouchers for private schools. Devon also is concerned about the governor’s cuts to Denali Kid Care, a program he said he would fully support.
Another difference between Devon and Giessel is Devon’s position on “Right to Privacy” as he says that is a right guaranteed in the Alaska state constitution. Unlike Giessel, Devon believes that women’s personal choices about their reproductive rights should be between a woman, her family, her doctor and her faith. The incumbent senator’s website, and her questionnaire from Alaska Family Values Voter Guide, states that she is clearly in the other camp. In fact, SB 191, a bill she co-sponsored, along with Minority leader John Coghill, Sens. Charlie Huggins, Fred Dyson, and Sen Donny Olson mandated that a pregnant woman wishing to receive an abortion, for whatever reason, would be required to undergo an ultrasound first, although the woman could decline to view it, or hear an explanation of what it contained.
Despite his underdog status, and late entry into the race due to redistricting, Devon is optimistic about his chances in the upcoming election. Some 53 percent of Alaskan voters actually are unaffiliated, like him, and the majority of regular people he meets share his disdain for the partisan political atmosphere in Juneau, he said. He hopes they will vote for people with moderate views, like him.
“There is too much at stake in our great state to just sit on the sidelines because of personal ideology. The job of an elected official is to serve Alaskans. To be effective you have to listen and work with others regardless of their party affiliation,” Devon said. “She signed a document (with the Alaska Tea Party) saying, ‘I will not work with the dems,’” added his campaign manager, Katherine Pfeiffer.
Sen. Giessel was one of just four republicans who chose not to participate in the senate bi-partisan caucus last session, led by Senate President Gary Stevens, a Kodiak republican who represented the district that Seward was in, along with Paul Seaton, a Homer republican. The caucus was where committee appointments and chairmanships were made, where appropriations were doled out for district projects, where bills and budgets were discussed and decided prior to their vote on the floor, Devon said. “She relegated herself to obscurity, and her record these last few years have been pretty pathetic,” he said. Giessel’s minority party status did not give her much ability to get the roadwork, and sidewalk repairs sought by who lived in her former district in Anchorage, he said: “We haven’t been well represented up in Anchorage, and we’ve been paying the price.”
Like the bipartisan caucus in the Senate, Devon opposes Governor Sean Parnell’s “Oil Reform” plan last session that would have “given away” two billion dollars a year in state tax revenues to the big oil companies operating at Prudhoe Bay, without guarantees that they would produce more oil in the pipeline, or develop oil fields. “They said “trust us” and we’ll do the right thing,” Devon said, but for 30 years, even before Gov. Sarah Palin’s ACES oil tax reform was enacted, they failed to even start developing the other oil fields they own such as the huge one at Point Thompson, nor tried to develop a gas pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to LGN plant in Nikiski, he said. Giessel, his opponent, supported the governor’s proposed oil tax reforms. Developing the state’s natural resources effectively and sensibly, and building new state gas pipelines, wherever they would prove most beneficial, would be his highest goal, Devon said.
His views on other Alaska environmental issues differ from his opponent as well. Devon opposes the proposed Pebble Mine Project, which Sen. Giessel supports. As a younger man, Devon worked at the oil fields in Prudhoe Bay. While in the Merchant Marines, he participated in the Exxon Valdez oil spill cleanup efforts, and witnessed first-hand its devastating effects on the environment and the local economy. As such, Devon has concerns about oil drilling in the Arctic, and pledged to do all he could to assure that it can be safely accomplished.
Devon was born in Fairbanks, and grew up in the small town of Anderson. His parents ran retail stores along the Parks Highway, including a gas station, a grocery store, and a Laundromat, where he also worked while growing up.. He has a B.S. Degree in Chemistry from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Devon, and his wife Jeanne have three sons and a daughter between the ages of 11 -27: Byron, Rory, Alexandra and Lucas. A year ago they closed down their business, the Museum Store and Nature Source in the 5th Avenue Mall, which they ran for 20 years, and retired.
Jeanne, his wife, is the managing editor of the Mudflats blog, and is an acclaimed Alaska political writer and muckraker. She co-authored Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin (Simon and Schuster, 2011) a New York Times Best-Seller. She is also a contributing author to Going Rogue – An American Nightmare, compiled by the editors of The Nation Magazine.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all the voters in District N – in Nikiski, Salamatof, Mackey Lake, Sterling, Cooper Landing, Moose Pass, Bear Creek, Seward, Lowell Point and Hope. It has been a delightful time, meeting and talking with you at your doors and at community events!
I have focused, since May, on meeting you and hearing your concerns personally. Not only is ours the most beautiful district in the State (I am slightly biased, of course), but District N is home to amazing Alaskans!
Fishing, tourism, oil & gas, small business, transportation…these are the topics you have brought up to me. From excess glacial gravel in Seward, to workforce shortages in oil & gas in Cook Inlet, to Cooper Landing roads, to allocation of our fishery resources…these are all important, challenging opportunities that need solutions!
I am counting on all of you to bring your expertise to the issues, helping me craft solutions as your Senator. No one can “fix” things alone…it requires us all, working together, across political and geographic lines. We are all Alaskans who love this magnificent place we live, and want the best future for those who follow us. We share common values.
I commit to you my continued focus and energy. I take the job of being entrusted as a State Senator very seriously. Decisions are needed today to ensure a prosperous future. I will continue to devote my knowledge, skills and experience to our District N.
I respectfully ask for your vote in the Republican Primary Election on Tuesday. And please feel free to stop and talk to me when you see my red pickup in your communities, between now and the November General Election. Talking with you, hearing your concerns…that is my number one priority.
Senator Cathy Giessel
redistricted Alaska Senate District N
House Dist 27 & 28 (Anchorage hillside, Turnagain Arm, North half of Kenai Peninsula)
FB: Re-Elect Senator Cathy Giessel
Here’s some information on the upcoming election so there are no surprises at the ballot box.
Nest Tuesday, August 28 is the Primary Election. The polling sites are open from 7 am to 8 pm. Seward and Lowell Point voters will vote at the Seward Marine Science Center KM Rae Building at 125 Third Avenue. Bear Lake voters will continue to vote at the Bear Creek Fire Hall.
You must be prepared to show one form of identification such as the new Voter ID card. If your name does not appear on the official Register, you can vote a Questioned Ballot.
In the Seward primary election, only registered Republicans, Undeclared, and Non-Partisan voters can vote an Alaska Republican Party ballot. This was decided by the Alaska Republican Party. Any registered voter can vote on the Alaska Democratic Party/Alaska Libertarian Party/Alaska Independence Party ballot. Note that voters registered as Republican, Undeclared or Non-Partisan may choose either ballot.
Both ballots, and a Measures-Only ballot include two measures: Ballot Measure No 1 concerns the city or borough property tax exemption, and Ballot Measure No 2 concerns the Alaska Coastal Management Program. Both measures are addressed in detail in the recently mailed State of Alaska Primary Election Ballot Measures pamphlet.
The Alaska Republican ballot has three parts. United States Representative: John Cox, Terre Gates, and Don Young. State Senator District N: Cathy Giessel, Joe Arness. State Representative District 28: Mike Chenault.
The Alaska Democratic Party/Alaska Libertarian Party/Alaskan Independence Party has only one part. United States Representative: Matt Moore, Doug Urquidi, Frank Vondersaar, Debra Chesnut, Sharon Cissna, Jim McDermott.
Sample ballots for Seward are available at the city clerk’s office.
Mark your calendar for August 28 Primary Election, the October 2 City and Borough Election, and the November 6 General Election. Polls are open from 7 am to 8 pm.
Absentee voting in person begins 15 days prior to an election. To receive a ballot by mail, you must apply at least 10 days prior to an election. The application for a by mail ballot is on the State Division of Elections website at email@example.com. More information on the Seward election process is available on the city website at
Submitted by Carol Griswold
By Heidi Zemach for SCN
Even if you might not have seen any of his signs around Seward, received any knocks on your door, or received his campaign literature, there is another, more moderate republican challenger running against incumbent Senator Cathy Giessel, in the August 28 state primary election.
Joe Arness, has served on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education for the past 22 years, and currently presides over the board as its president. Arness also served for three years on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in the 1980s. Arness was born at the Seward Hospital, before the regional hospital came to his side of the peninsula, but has lived in Nikiski ever since. He would like to offer an alternative to incumbent Senator Giessel. Why did he put his name in the ring?
“Because it seemed to me like with the new district, (under redistricting) we should have a new representative,” Arness explained. “Mrs. Giessel is from south Anchorage, and I thought that the peninsula ought to have a name in the race.”
But it goes further than that. Arness is concerned about the partisan political games that have characterized the state senate, and the national political process, and doesn’t like it.
“I believe both in Juneau and Washington DC there’s way too much D’s against R’s, and that it gets in the way of trying to find rational solutions,” he said. In local politics, you still have a mix of people from both parties, yet they learn to work together, he said: “And I think that’s badly missing in Juneau.”
Arness says he would have at least have been a participant in the bipartisan coalition in the senate that was formed this past legislative session as a result of the 10-republican, 10 democrat member split. That way, he would have had a voice in the private meetings, where all of the important decisions really are made. Or, as a part of the caucus, he might have been given a senate committee to chair, such as the Labor and Commerce chairmanship that Sen. Giessel was offered, but turned down in order to be in the minority party, which only had four members. As part of the caucus, and chair of a committee, she would have had the opportunity to decide whether bills should be heard, or killed without a hearing, he said. As inherently undemocratic as this entire process was, he said, as one of the four republicans who chose to sit outside of that coalition, Giessel remained outside of all the action. “I think the way it operates, if you’re not in that group then you might as well stay home,” said Arness, “because what the senate does in this case happens in this coalition, not on the floor of the senate. The floor of the senate is just a formality. It’s a staged show.”
Arness and Sen. Giessel do share similar views on several things, (including opposition to the citizen’s Ballot Measure 2 for reinstating a Coastal Management Program, which he thinks is poorly constructed and invites lawsuits, and which she thinks gives too much clout to the people in coastal areas, at the expense of those in bigger cities. with larger populations. She also supports the Pebble Mine proposal, and received an A-plus rating from the Alaska Chamber of Commerce, a decidedly pro-oil and mining development business/chamber of commerce coalition. Arness meanwhile supports the idea of at least allowing the Pebble Mine proposal to be released and examined closely, before rejecting it out of hand.
But the two have greatly different views about funding and fundamentally about their support for public education. For instance the senator supports the school voucher program while he does not. At an Anchorage Tea Party Candidate Forum in late June, 20-12, Sen. Giessel, along with Senate Edu-cation Chair Kevin Meyer, said she supports the “complete privatization” of Alaska Public Schools. “State oversight of education should be minimal,” Giessel also states on her website. “Control of schools needs to be at the local community level. Standardized, one-size-fits-all programs do not make sense. She cosponsored SB 106 “K-12 Scholarship Program,” which would allow parents to use state allocated funds to send their children to public school, charter schools, private schools, specialty school (such as Gateway, for dyslexic kids), or home school.
Many in the field of public education, and those like Arness, who serve on public school boards and are entrenched in the business of improving the public school system, find this approach radical, and fear that it would threaten existing funding sources for public education.
Sen Giessel also advocates controlling state spending, while at the same time criticizing Alaska public schools performance, particularly when it comes to money for things such as Medicaid and education: “As our state budget grows, so do the “formula driven” programs, such as education and Medicaid; these two items alone make up 55% of our annual State budget.” She continues;“As our state government grows, so does payroll, benefits and retirement costs. Somewhere, sometime soon, hard decisions are going to have to be made. Choices: state income tax, state sales tax… or reduce spending to match our income. I support reducing our spending to match our income AND correcting the factors that are curtailing development of our vast resources and our under-developed private sector.” Giessel is referring here to her desire, and the Governor’s to put more oil into the Alaska pipeline by repealing ACES, the current state royalty taxes on oil companies.
Unfortunately, Arness says he under-estimated the challenge of running an aggressive and effective campaign, and has not had either the time, nor the means necessary to mount much of one throughout the vast new district this summer, while Giessel has strong backing, off-season pay as a senator, and has been actively campaigning for quite a few months. Arness, a realtor who fishes the Kenai area setnet fishery commercially, was tied up for much of the summer, waiting to see if he and his crew would be allowed to go fishing on any given day. He also was busy overseeing the extensive repair of a building he owns, which lost its roof when it collapsed over the winter. Due to the timing of redistricting decision, he only found out about the new District N shortly before the deadline to enter his candidacy. “She’s got a lot of name recognition. This is a huge district, and it requires a tremendous amount of time. And I have not had the time this summer,” he said.
The republican who wins the state primary election August 28th, will go up against challenger Ron Devon, an independent, from Anchorage, in the next election. Devon shares many of Arness’ views on the importance of supporting state funding for public education, and his concerns about the corrupt nature of partisan politics in Juneau, and the greater need for bipartisanship.
The Seward Annex is open until 3:00 if you don’t make it you can call the KPB Clerk’s office at (907) 714-2160
Voting time has come! Cheryl Seese, who is now a notary, has candidate packets available. You can submit your forms Monday through Thursday from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM. You only have until August 15th to submit your forms. For Seward’s interest the Assembly seat for the East Peninsula is open and Seward Bear Creek Flood Service Area Board has three vacant seats open and Bear Creek Fire Service Area Board has three seats open. The Assembly did vote in favor to open all the Seward Bear Creek Flood Service Area seats to everyone in the service area. There are three seats open. Consider serving! Remember the KPB Seward office is located in the Sea View Plaza building. You can reach me at 224-2001 Thanks
Voting time has come! Cheryl Seese, who is now a notary, has candidate packets available. You can submit your forms Monday through Thursday from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM. You only have until August 15th to submit your forms. For Seward’s interest the Assembly seat for the East Peninsula is open and Seward Bear Creek Flood Service Area Board has three vacant seats open and Bear Creek Fire Service Area Board has three seats open. The Assembly did vote in favor to open all the Seward Bear Creek Flood Service Area seats to everyone in the service area. There are three seats open. Consider serving! Remember the KPB Seward office is located in the Sea View Plaza building. You can reach me at 224-2001 Thanks.
Voting time has come! Cheryl Seese, who is now a notary, has candidate packets available. You can submit your forms Monday through Thursday from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM. You only have until August 15th to submit your forms. For Seward’s interest the Assembly seat for the East Peninsula is open and Seward Bear Creek Flood Service Area Board has three vacant seats open and Bear Creek Fire Service Area Board has three seats open. The Assembly will vote on August 7th to change the Seward Bear Creek Flood Service Area seats to all inclusive as opposed to a certain number from the city of Seward and a certain number from outside the city limits. Consider serving! Remember the KPB Seward office is located in the Sea View Plaza building. You can reach me at 224-2001 Thanks.