Soldotna resident Daniel Lynch originally had no plans to come out of retirement — or his armchair, as he puts it. But the combination of the Legislature’s work the last few years and this year’s candidates for the House of Representatives seat for District 30 made him change his mind, he said.
“Originally I tried to convince other people around here,” Lynch said, explaining that time conflicts and lack of money were presented as reasons people declined. “So eventually after I saw the list of candidates who were running I thought, ‘I’m going to have to do it myself.’”
Lynch is the self-described underdog of the most contested race in the state, a retired union worker who has not held public office before. He regularly attends public meetings in Soldotna and at the Kenai Peninsula Borough level and weighs in often. He said he felt galvanized to run for the District 30 seat in part to prove that anyone can do it, that it doesn’t take large reserves in order to run a campaign. His campaign has been completely self-funded, which he brought up at the last forum for the District 30 race in comparison to the other three candidates.
“It’s always easy to spend other people’s money,” he said.
Lynch is running as a nonpartisan candidate, which he said he thinks could help him in Juneau when it came to reaching compromises between the two main parties.
“The two-party system is what’s caused gridlock in Washington D.C.,” he said.
He now sees the same thing happening in Juneau. Being independent would allow Lynch to present ideas without offending either of the parties, he said.
The biggest item on every candidate’s mind this year is the state’s budget, with the previous Legislature choosing not to act on Senate Bill 128, the governor’s plan to use Permanent Fund earnings to help fund government, leaving Alaska with a gaping budget deficit. Lynch said he supports a 5 percent sales tax on online purchases statewide, claiming those who shop online would not be disproportionately affected because that would still be 1 percent less than the sales tax paid in stores in areas like Soldotna.
“If I’m not successful, I hope somebody else around … the state picks it up and goes with it because it needs to be accomplished,” he said.
In addition to the online sales tax, Lynch said he would support eliminating state spending on primary elections, something he views as unnecessary. Lynch would also support cutting spending that “leaves the state.”
Another issue Lynch views as necessary to address should he go to Juneau is that of the heroin epidemic in the state, and specifically on the Kenai Peninsula. He cited a lack of resources or places to go for those who want to get clean, which perpetuates a cycle of relapse.
“And we cannot fight it neighborhood by neighborhood or town by town,” Lynch said. “We need to do something on the statewide level to get some rehab and (such) going.”
Protecting the health of the Kenai River is a goal for Lynch, as it helps support District 30 and the surrounding area economically. In Kenai and Soldotna, specifically, Lynch would like to see significantly updated wastewater treatment plants, though he said clean water is something that can be addressed at a statewide level as well. Addressing rising health care costs in the state is also on Lynch’s mind as things he would like to work on should he get elected.
“It needs to be dealt with because it affects every one of us,” he said.
Lynch said he ran for the Distrcit 30 seat to give people more options than have existed in the past. He said he hopes the relative unhappiness he understands people feel for the current party system does not stop people from getting out and exercising their chance to vote and make a choice.
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