Commentary: We are running to save Alaska

By Bill Walker and Heidi Drygas
For The Cordova Times

This past week we announced that we’re running as a team for governor and lieutenant governor in 2022. This was not a decision we made lightly. But as two lifelong Alaskans watching our home state suffer, the decision was clear.

Our current governor has no vision for Alaska and, in fact, seems to have disdain for those things that make our state special and unique. He attempted to slash and burn our K-12 education and university systems. He’s reduced our marine highway system to a shadow of its former self by underfunding, selling, and giving away our fleet. He’s attacked the rights of workers. He’s waged war on the courts and legislature, showing an utter disregard for our constitution and separation of powers. He’s also lost one case after another in court—most recently his failed attempt to destroy the Power Cost Equalization program, utterly wasting Alaska’s resources at a time when we can least afford to.

Why? For the sake of partisan national politics.

Alaska prides itself on its distinctiveness and individuality. We often hear the phrase, “That may be how they do things Outside, but that’s not how we do it in Alaska.” It’s not a slight against our neighbors to the south so much as a sense of pride about the Alaskan way. It captures our sense of ruggedness, community, unique Alaskan identity and a different kind of politics.

But this governor has no concept of our Alaskan way. Take, for example, the recent $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that recently passed the U.S. Senate through bold leadership from Sen. Lisa Murkowski and others. The bill steers billions of federal dollars to Alaska. Alaskans of all political stripes should be lauding this effort, which will spur needed economic activity and create good paying jobs. Has the current governor even given it a passing reference? Not once.


Ethically, this governor is more than challenged; he’s deficient. Whether it’s unethically spending public funds on partisan advertisements, or protecting an attorney general who repeatedly sexually harassed an employee working just feet from the governor’s office door, this deficiency is clear. The defining message of his administration has been to lie, again and again, about the finances of our state. He’s essentially attempting to bribe Alaskans, to buy their vote, by promising them PFDs of a size he knows would bankrupt our state’s future and kill our economy. Whatever his philosophy is, it’s certainly not fiscal conservatism.

Again and again, he has broken Alaskans’ trust.

But in all of this chaos, there is still good news. Alaskans have banded together at every level to protect our state. Local governments have protected their residents. The legislature, while constantly under fire from the governor, has held the line and protected our state’s resources for the future.

But the time has come to stop the stalemate. This governor, the very person who should be helping Alaska prosper, has been holding us back. With a new administration in place and the opportunities Alaska holds, our possibilities are literally endless. It’s time to unleash Alaska’s full potential again.

And that’s why the Walker-Drygas team is running. We will stop waging needless battles against the legislature and courts, allowing us to finish our work and build a durable, honest, and

balanced fiscal plan. This will provide certainty to businesses and industry, leading to a healthy and growing economy—jobs and opportunities for every Alaskan.

We will rebuild trust in government again. No more lying, backdoor deals, or crony contracts for large campaign donors.

We will end the political bickering by building a bipartisan team that holds only Alaska’s best interests at heart. No more partisan loyalty oaths, no more out-of-state budget “experts”— just a group of the best and brightest Alaskans united to protect our state and unleash its limitless potential.

We will rebuild our infrastructure and support our ferry and education systems so that Alaskans can stay in Alaska to live, learn, and work.

So, why is our team different? Why will we keep our promises? Because we’re not longtime politicians looking to use these positions as a steppingstone to the next big thing. We’re just lifelong Alaskans who care deeply about our state and its people, whose goal is to fix our state and secure Alaska’s future.

We won’t be paying D.C. consultants to book us on national cable news programs. Instead, we’ll be speaking — and listening — to Alaskans every day of our terms.

We will share much more about our vision for a vibrant and growing Alaska in the coming weeks and months. But in the meantime, we want to send the following message to Alaska’s teachers, students, victims, elders, business owners, workers, legislators and so many others who have suffered under the current administration’s mismanagement: Help is on the way.

Ted Stevens said it best when he coined the phrase, “To hell with politics, just do what’s right for Alaska.” With the support of Alaska’s voters, that’s exactly what our administration will do.

Bill Walker served as the 11th governor of Alaska from 2014-2018. He lives in Anchorage with his wife, Donna. He is a candidate for governor in 2022. Heidi Drygas served as the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development under Governor Bill Walker from 2014-2018. She lives in Juneau with her husband Kevin and daughter Olive. She is a candidate for lieutenant governor in 2022.