Mead Treadwell joins governor’s race at last minute

Republican voters in Alaska get to choose their gubernatorial candidate from among a former senator, a prominent businessman and a former lieutenant governor who jumped into the race at the last minute.

Until the June 1 deadline, Mead Treadwell hadn’t decided if he was going to run for governor. He hadn’t intended to this year but was disappointed in the Republican primary options so far and feels good about the race, he said.

“I had a lot of prayer and a lot of consultation with my family,” he said. “All three of my kids have given up their summer for this campaign to help. That wasn’t exactly their plan either … I believe we will have the ammunition, the firepower. We began with strong name recognition.”

Treadwell, who served as lieutenant governor with former governor Sean Parnell from 2010–2014, has been working on resource development and economic issues since then. He worked with private equity firm Pt Capital until announcing his bid for governor, which has projects in Alaska and Iceland. Prior to working as lieutenant governor, he led the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s air quality division and worked in Prince William Sound on cleanup in the wake of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

One of the major critiques he has of Gov. Bill Walker’s administration and of the Legislature is that they took four years to agree on a fix for the state’s budget crisis after oil prices took a precipitous plunge in 2014. However, there’s still work to be done to attract industry investment in Alaska, primarily oriented toward providing financial certainty, he said. He cited the example of the Parnell administration’s work on reforming oil taxes, which he said helped Alaska weather the recession, as a successful policy he worked on.

“If the state is not consistently looking for investors to come in to form investment to create jobs, we have a problem,” he said. “Whether you ‘ve got high oil prices or low oil prices, we know that the state budget is based on throughput in the pipeline … I think the Legislature was right to say let’s try to stem the cash outlay. But the fact is that we didn’t keep our promise. And a government that doesn’t keep its promises really hurts Alaska’s credibility.”

Alaska has a number of resource development opportunities coming down the pike, including the Congressional approval of oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the ongoing work on the Alaska LNG Project to monetize the natural gas on the North Slope. He said he was hopeful the supply agreement contracts could be negotiated to support a project with a target market in Asia, though the supply agreement terms are still secret, and has a long experience working in the LNG industry.

Though the state has plenty of proven oil resources on the North Slope and in the Interior, the infrastructure needed to support them will cost “tens of billions of dollars” of investment to access, he said. That will take the state attracting private companies, which want assurances from state government, he said.

“We have to be known as a state that keeps our promises,” he said. “People know we’ve got lots of resources. The credibility question is ‘Can you come here without getting your fingers burnt?’”

He said he’s been involved in environmental policymaking on a variety of mines and other projects and supports getting more regulatory authority in Alaska as opposed to at the federal level.

“Alaskans argue about the environment a lot,” he said. “We love the environment. If we don’t pay attention to being responsible and keeping our priorities to ourselves, others are going to take them away from us. We’ve got to keep decision-making at home.”

Public safety, particularly the opioid crisis and domestic violence, are key issues Treadwell says he’d work on as governor. Establishing better federal and state government cooperation could help curb drugs moving into the state, he said. Placing more police into the communities to help police and raising awareness for domestic violence, sexual assault and suicide would also be goals, he said. He said he also supports more funding for education.

“We’re going to work to make these happen and get more resources where we need to,” he said.

Treadwell said he sees Democratic primary gubernatorial candidate Mark Begich as his main opponent during this race. Begich, a former senator, was also a last-minute entry to the race, prompting Walker to withdraw from the Democratic primary and look for signatures as an independent candidate on the ballot.

However, Treadwell has a number of opponents on the Republican primary ticket for governor. Former senator Mike Dunleavy and businessman Scott Hawkins, both of whom have been campaigning for months, have been leading the field. Alaska Rep. Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) had been campaigning but withdrew his candidacy for personal reasons.

Five other Republican candidates — Darin Colbry of Anchorage, Thomas Gordon of Wasilla, Gerald Heikes of Palmer, Merica Hlatcu of Anchorage and Michael Sheldon of Petersburg — have also filed for the Republican primary. One candidate, William Toien of Anchorage, has filed for the Libertarian party primary.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at eearl@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Alaska Department of Fish and Game logo. (Graphic by Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Board of Fisheries approves Kenai River king salmon action plan

The plan adds bait restrictions for in-river fisheries, doubles the sport bag limit for sockeye salmon, and adds a swath of restrictions to the commercial setnet fishery

The Kenai Municipal Airport is seen on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
New Grant Aviation planes to double service’s flight capacity

The first of two Cessna 208B EX Grand Caravans will start transporting passengers on Monday

Stickers are available for voters at the Kenai No. 1 precinct for Election Day on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna to hold ‘I Voted’ sticker design contest

City council members approved the program during their Wednesday night meeting

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of a bill increasing state funds for public education in the Alaska House of Representatives on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bill seeking to bump use of Alaska Performance Scholarship clears the House with unanimous support

The money is awarded to high-performing high school graduates to help pay for postsecondary education at participating institutions in Alaska

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Ryan Anderson answers questions from state senators during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
State officials working to meet Friday deadline for revised transportation plan

The federal government rejected the plan on Feb. 9, citing numerous deficiencies

Travis Every, top left, speaks in support of fishing opportunity for the east side setnet fishery before the State Board of Fisheries at the Egan Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local fishers talk conservation, opportunity before Board of Fisheries in Anchorage

Local fishers from the Kenai Peninsula traveled to Anchorage this weekend to… Continue reading

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, presents information on a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for Cook Inlet’s east side setnet fishery on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bjorkman bill would pay bonuses to nationally certified teachers

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development estimates that the bonus program would apply to about 215 of Alaska’s estimated 7,315 teachers — about 3%

Alaska senators meet with members of the media to discuss education legislation after a press conference by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on the topic on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Dunleavy threatens veto of education bill if more of his priorities aren’t added

It is not certain there would be the 40 votes necessary to override a veto by the governor

A map displays a wide-ranging special weather statement, published Tuesday by the National Weather Service, covering Southcentral Alaska. (Map courtesy of National Weather Service)
Strong winds, low wind chills forecast through Friday

Wind chills over night may reach as low as -20 to -40 degrees in much of Southcentral

Most Read