Commentary: Time to Speak Out

By Joseph E. Usibeli Sr. and Peggy Shumaker

For The Cordova Times

Up until now, we have kept our political opinions to ourselves.  Our political involvement has happened behind the scenes.

The current situation, with Governor Dunleavy’s deeply destructive vetoes, requires us to speak publicly.

Like many of you, we take seriously our obligation to build and sustain communities so that Alaskans may thrive.  We know that using resources wisely requires long-term planning and plenty of listening.

We recognize that Alaska will need to get over the notion that state services can continue with no financial contribution from citizens.  We cannot cut our way out of debt, though.  We need new income streams.  We need to bring our best efforts to finding a balance, combining wise frugality with each of us chipping in—all to serve the common good.

We do not think the current administration has in mind the common good.  Its awareness of the consequences of its acts is shallow to nonexistent.

Governor Dunleavy’s sudden, severe, and sometimes illegal budget cuts have caused tremendous harm to Alaska and Alaskans.  Notice that this is not in the future tense.  The cuts have already damaged our citizens and our communities.  Our credit rating is in the gutter.  We have gotten plenty of national attention—all bad.

Governor Dunleavy has put forward a long list of vetoes, saying we cannot afford access to medical care, access to a properly-funded university, access to art and culture.  The governor would have us neglect our obligations to elder care and Head Start, to shelter for the homeless.  The governor thinks we cannot afford to fund scholarships that Alaska’s brightest students have worked hard to earn, scholarships already awarded. 

With careful planning, we can afford all those things.

What we cannot afford is for Governor Dunleavy to remain in office. 

His brief time as governor has brought us an atmosphere of fear and distress, as people worry about whether they will be able to care for special-needs children or whether they will lose their jobs, their homes, and their ability to live in Alaska. 

We cannot allow a governor who doesn’t understand the concept of separation of powers to remain in power.  He cannot be allowed to attack the judiciary because courts make decisions he doesn’t like.  He cannot be allowed to keep the legislature from upholding its constitutional responsibilities to fund programs that provide for the health, education, and well-being of Alaska’s people.

We cannot tolerate a governor who threatens the university or who tries in heavy-handed ways to micromanage higher education.  That is not his job.  He has neither the skill nor the right to interfere with the board of regents and the university administration.

We cannot trust a governor who uses state funds for his own political gain.

People from all regions of Alaska have had enough.  Many urban and rural leaders, Republicans, Democrats, and non-partisans, want the governor gone.  Alaska Native organizations, educators, medical professionals, business leaders, bankers, environmentalists, Labor, arts organizations, and nonprofits know we can do better.  We stand together to call for Governor Dunleavy’s ouster.

The Recall Dunleavy effort has asked a team of Alaska’s finest legal experts to draft a petition stating the reasons we must recall Governor Dunleavy.

We respectfully ask you to join us in the recall process.

Co-chairs of Recall Dunleavy are Joseph E. Usibelli, Sr., Arliss Sturgulewski, and Vic Fischer

To find out more about how you can sign the petition or to help in the recall effort, please go to  A full list of events will be posted there.  (This site will be live on July 31.)

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Joseph Usibelli Sr. is a long-time Alaskan community leader and philanthropist. Peggy Shumaker served as Alaska State Writer Laureate.