1. How would your administration balance the needs and allocations of all fisheries user groups, taking into consideration the importance of commercial fisheries to the statewide revenue stream?
First, I would make sure that appointments to the Fisheries Board, Council and Treaty panels are representative of our user groups, cooperative with each other, and committed to put the fish first. I will also oppose any new taxes on commercial fishers like the kind Senator Dunleavy attempted to impose, SB 198, 2016. Where a reduction of effort or other rationalization is needed to protect fish populations, I support buyouts. I will direct Fish & Game to manage for abundance and use my experience as Chair of the US Arctic Research Commission and a co-founder of the Prince William Sound Science Center to increase the scientific capability of our state. We need to know about our fish at every stage, and make sure that our hatcheries are part of the solution, not part of the problem.
2. How do you plan to impartially serve all Alaskans, regardless of their political viewpoint?
As Lt. Governor, I had to put aside my own biases when signing initiatives and do what the people had voted for. I will appoint commissioners and department heads who will be fair, and care deeply about transparent processes. I have always believed that you can disagree with someone without being disagreeable, a lesson that many seem to have forgotten. Working together and across the aisle is essential, but that doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice our principles. I will bring people together to look for creative win-win solutions to our problems.
3. Now that the Alaska Permanent fund is being used to balance the state budget, what is your specific plan to address the chasm between state revenues and expenditures and to restore economic balance?
First, I will stop the raids on the Permanent Fund! A POMV model will allow us to spin off revenues to avoid taxes while still paying the full dividend. I will eliminate duplicate programs and look for federal cost-sharing and block grants to gain more flexibility in tailoring health care solutions. . I will also use my experience as a business leader to identify areas for growth like value-added resource processing, and invite outside investment to help us grow the economy. We haven’t run out of money, we’ve just run out of imagination! There are projects across the North Slope, Interior, and coasts looking for financing, we just need a governor who is willing to pay our bills and keep our promises to investors. I will not kill jobs with taxes, and will work to cut the red tape that prevents our entrepreneurs from starting the small businesses that are the lifeblood of an economy.
4. What would you do to support continuous adequate funding for the Alaska Marine Highway System, and the scheduling needed to serve coastal communities?
I lived and worked in Cordova while I was overseeing response efforts for the Exxon Valdez, so I know the importance of the AMHS to our coastal communities. I will ensure railbelt legislators understand that. However, I have personally experienced frustrations, as many have, with the schedule of some links in the highway, particularly in Prince William Sound. As Lt. Governor, I was glad to see new ships commissioned and built in Alaska, and as governor, I will grow the economy so that more manufacturing can happen in our shipyards. We need to keep renewing the fleet to take advantage of new technologies that can lower costs, make better schedules, improve reliability and grow demand.
5. What role do you see tribes playing in Alaska’s future?
Since recognition in the early 1990s, tribes have played a growing role in health care, child welfare, justice, sanitation and environmental protection. Good state-tribal relations are crucial. I negotiated some of the first state-tribal agreements at ADEC and was the non-Native to serve on the ANTHC Foundation board. I encouraged Fish and Game to reach out to subsistence communities and take traditional knowledge into account. I initiated language protection efforts at the state level. We have common cause addressing issues like the opioid crisis and the epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault. Tribes will always be our essential partners in this state.