Ruffner files to run against Seaton for House seat

A Board of Fisheries member is planning to challenge Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer) for his seat in the Alaska Legislature.

Robert Ruffner of Kasilof filed a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission with the intention of running for the District 31 seat in the House of Representatives. He said he intends to run as a Republican and to focus on the budget issues still facing the state.

Though he enjoys working on the Board of Fisheries, he said he was considering what the future would look like as the board is constantly enveloped in controversy and no one is guaranteed to serve on it long-term. In addition to fisheries management, Ruffner is also an active member of the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s Planning Commission and Road Service Area board as well as chairing the borough’s ongoing Material Site Working Group addressing the conflicts between gravel pits and nearby residents.

“I think that experience that I have of sitting on the planning commission and the road board (doesn’t) get any more local government than that,” he said. “And at the fish board level, you’re looking at the whole state. I’ve been fortunate to have that position to meet a lot of the mayors and community leaders across the whole state.”

Watching the inaction on the budget for the past several years has been frustrating, especially as the Legislature has not been working on cutting expenses this year as they have in the past several, he said. The House of Representatives bipartisan coalition, in which Seaton holds a leadership position, was an interesting idea to start but has failed to deliver any solutions, Ruffner said.

“I see these issues that we’re facing right now as needing some dedicated attention,” he said. “We really are at a crucial point in the state’s history … those are some big, sweeping fundamental issues that we need to address. We just don’t have any more time.”

One other candidate, John Cox of Anchor Point, has also filed to run as a Republican for the same seat. Seaton, who has served in the Legislature since 2002, filed his letter of intent to run for reelection with the Alaska Public Offices Commission in July 2017. Seaton defeated two contenders in the 2016 primary, including Cox, earning a shoo-in in the general because no candidates ran in the opposing parties.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at eearl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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