Countdown to election day for Olson, Thornton

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Wednesday, October 29, 2014 10:56pm
  • News

The campaign clock is winding down for newcomer Shauna Thornton, a Democrat from Kenai, and incumbent Rep. Kurt Olson, R-Soldotna, for the District 30 seat in the state House of Representatives.

Since announcing her candidacy in August, Thornton has been knocking on doors. Most residents she talked to were surprised to see her on their doorstep, she said.

“It’s those private conversations in someone’s living room where you find out what people really think,” Thornton said. She said her job has been challenging not being the incumbent running in the contested race.

Olson, who has represented the district for a decade, said he hopes to return to Juneau to tie up some loose ends.

“I have a few things that I haven’t quite finished,” Olson said. He said his biggest accomplishments in office have been his successful avocation for improving worker’s compensation.

Since his first year in office Olson has helped move Alaska from being the first in the nation for compensation, to fifth. He has a long list of committee positions under his belt including the Chair of the Labor and Commerce Committee, the Oil and Gas Committee and the Community and Regional Affairs Committee.

Olson also spent two years on the Soldotna City Council and the Central Emergency Service Area Board of Directors.

Thornton, has also spent her fair share of time in Juneau, where she has spent the past five years advocating for funding for education and student’s issues. She is currently the Student Union President.

The drive to represent a wider body came when Thornton realized the voices of her peers were not being heard, she said. So she started doing her homework.

Thornton and Olson agree the one of the biggest issues facing the winner of this election will be developing the infrastructure on the central peninsula to handle the pending Alaska LNG project.

Olson said the area is being properly prepared. Roads, office space and land are being aquired.

“Nothing in life is a for sure thing, but the ball is rolling,” Olson said.

People on the central peninsula are innovative and have the ability to fulfill the requirements of the positions but need the right foundation to make sure they are in a competitive position, Thornton said.

The first step is education, Thornton said. She wants to see the jobs created by the LNG project filled by Alaskans.

Kenai Peninsula College is doing a good job at making sure people are learning what they need to know to secure those jobs, Olson said.

Both contenders will also be feeling the pressure of potentially very deep cuts to the state’s revenue. Olson said he is prepared to remind legislators they need to tighten their belts.

“I am good at being able to say, ‘Hey, we can’t afford it,’” Olson said. “I might loose some of my friends.”

Thornton said she also has a fiscally conservative approach to spending. Education needs some assistance in that area, she said.

Last year there was a 14 percent cut to education at KPC across the board, Thornton said.

“Cuts don’t mean slashing everything with a black pen,” Thornton said. However, the legislators need to be spending responsibly.

Olson said he is confident he can secure support for local needs with legislators. He said sometimes it takes a few years, but he has never had a bill he has supported fail.

Thornton said it would be tough taking the seat without direct experience in the political process but would be able to make things happen for her constituents.

 

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

A pie chart shows Kenai Peninsula Borough School District expenditures by object for the current fiscal year. (Chart via KPBSD)
Explanation of how KPBSD organizes funds caps ‘Budget 101’ series

Finance Director Elizabeth Hayes delivered the presentation to school board members during a Monday work session

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, answers questions from constituents during a legislative update at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Ruffridge predicts school funding, energy security will be top issues in Juneau next session

Ruffridge has represented District 7, which includes Kenai and Soldotna, in the Alaska House of Representatives since October 2022

Members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education meet on Monday, Dec. 4, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
New school board group will study 4-day school week

The group will meet regularly until next July, when committee members will present their findings to the full board

Members of the Kenai/Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee raise hands to vote in favor of a proposal during a meeting at Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Advisory committee supports protections for lake trout and king salmon

Advisory committee recommendations will be weighed by the State Board of Fisheries alongside public testimony as they deliberate on each proposal

The Kenai Peninsula College Main Entrance on Aug. 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Inside the Iditarod

Showcase to feature stories from champion, event photographer

Paul Gebhardt is photographed on March 24, 1996. (M. Scott Moon/Peninsula Clarion)
Kasilof musher dies at 67

Paul Gebhardt was a 21-time participant in the Iditarod

Santa Claus hugs Paul Cook during Christmas in the Park festivities at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna brings holiday cheer

Christmas in the Park drew hundreds to meet Santa Claus, go on sleigh rides, sip hot cocoa and listen to music

From left: Rep. Ben Carpenter, Sen. Jesse Bjorkman and Rep. Justin Ruffridge discuss their priorities regarding education during a work session with members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District on Monday, Dec. 4, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
School funding, accountability dominate school board work session with lawmakers

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, Rep. Ben Carpenter and Rep. Justin Ruffridge joined the board for a work session in Soldotna

Snow coats an eroding bluff near the mouth of the Kenai River on Friday, March 3, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai accepting bids on bluff stabilization project

The announcement means that contractors can start submitting their proposals for how they’d complete the work and how much it would cost to do so

Most Read