Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It has always been my plan to write a letter to my constituents addressing questions some have regarding my political standing and choice to join the House Coalition. Given recent events, this seems like an opportune time.
Joining the coalition was a difficult decision, but it was one that as a person of conscience, I ultimately had to make. I am a Republican and that has not changed; however, I am first and foremost an Alaskan and a representative of Cordova. My ultimate responsibility is to my constituents and the people of this state.
Clearly, the most pressing issues facing Alaska are addressing the deficit and achieving a sustainable and balanced fiscal solution. Despite having ample opportunity, the former House Majority proved itself unwilling to address these issues in a meaningful way. I was upfront with my colleagues and on the campaign trail that I would join the majority that was committed to taking the hard votes to get our economy back on track.
So, I joined the new Alaska House Majority Coalition, which is a group of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents who are committed to changing the status quo. The common thread that brought us together was not partisanship, but was a shared belief that action is needed now to ensure that our children and our children’s children can continue to live, work, and play in a prosperous Alaska.
That being said, I want to address the recent vote by the Alaska Republican Party to bar myself and two other Republicans from next year’s Republican Primary.
Essentially, a small group of political elites is attempting to usurp voters and dictate who can run in their party’s primary based on whether elected officials toed the party line.
My response is, shouldn’t the voters decide who is fit to be the party representative for their district? Aren’t I ultimately accountable to my voters?
I did what I felt was right for the communities I represent and the people of Alaska. I stand by that decision. If my constituents are unhappy with those actions or the job I’ve done, I fully expect them to vote their conscience. That is what our electoral process is based on. It is you, the residents of this district, that I am accountable to, not a group of people in a boardroom.
This is simply an attempt to diminish the power of voters by bolstering the power of a select few. The idea that a state political party may exclude individuals from their primary who acted on behalf of their constituents instead of the will of the party runs counter to the principles of a representational democracy.
Moreover, it actively discourages independent thought and bipartisanship when that is clearly something we need more of.
Lastly, bipartisan coalitions are not a new concept. Alaskans are an independent group of people and our political history is replete with examples of legislatures that set aside party-line politics for the betterment of the state.
There are many examples, but two recent ones come to mind.
- In 2007, Republicans held an 11-9 majority in the Alaska Senate. Despite being elected as Republicans, the mother-in-law of the current Chairman of the Alaska Republican Party and 5 other Republicans joined 9 Democrats to form a majority coalition. I don’t recall an attempt to remove those individuals from the following year’s primary.
- As recent as 2 years ago, the former Republican led House Majority bolstered its numbers with members who were elected as Democrats. The Alaska Democratic Party did not attempt to bar those individuals from running in their primary. Furthermore, it is ironic that an organization is suddenly taking issue with a practice that it has used to its advantage in previous years.
Ultimately, I do not believe this action will be enforceable. As a voter, however, I have to ask myself: why is a political party attempting to manipulate the system to control the actions of legislators while in office?
I, for one, do not want Alaska to turn down that path.
There aren’t a lot of certainties in this line of work, but I can promise this: as long as I am in office, I will not prioritize the needs of a political party over the communities I represent and the people of Alaska.
Please reach out to me with your thoughts on this issue or anything else that is important to you and your family.
State House Representative for District 32
Proudly Serving Kodiak, Cordova, Yakutat, and Seldovia