Shauna Thornton is one of five candidates making a run for the Alaska House of Representatives. It will be the Soldotna resident’s first time in public office if elected for the District 30 seat.
Thornton said she is prepared to address unchecked state spending and bring a new voice to the next legislative session.
“It is time to pull together and put more innovative projects on the table,” Thornton said. “… People in this community are forward thinking enough to know we have to grow, but they don’t like to see it wasted.”
Her continually evolving knowledge of the area, degrees of study and constant participation in the community coupled with tenacity, work ethic and an acute ability to listen to the concerns of her potential constituents are what makes her an ideal candidate for the position, Thornton said.
She said her qualifications for the position stem from her nearly 25-year stint living on the Kenai Peninsula. When she first landed in November 1991, she started out at the local radio station.
She then worked at the Boys & Girls Club so she could work around her two daughter’s school schedules, and at Alaska USA. She currently splits her day between work at the Kenai Peninsula College and as Legal Assistant for Joe Kashi.
In 2014, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts with concentrations in Sociology, History and English with an academic Anthropology from the Univeristy of Alaska.
Her campaign for the House overlaps her final year at the Unversity of Alaska, where she is going for her Masters degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Natural Resource Policy.
Thornton said she plans on using her open mind to move legislation once in office.
“You have to come with a good one (plan), and without an agenda,” she said. “You have to welcome input and be collaborative. You also have to know if you ever think you have a perfect plan, you don’t.”
Thornton said she sees Alaska’s untapped resources as hindering the viability of the state’s economy.
There are likely many opportunities the state isn’t taking advantage of, some no one has even thought of yet, she said.
One area she hopes to promote if elected is the use of renewable resources.
“We are missing out on geothermal, hydrothermal and tidal energy,” Thornton said.
Developing multiple pathways to balance an annual budget is the way to go, she said, because in that model no one resource is relied on any more than another, which stabilizes the economy in the long run.
Thornton said she supports the “nuts and bolts” of Gov. Bill Walker’s deficit reduction package.
Like any plan, there is always something that needs tweaking, she said.
Thornton said she would make it a priority to protect the PFD until the very last, and would never support “regressive taxes” like the Walker’s proposed income tax. There needs to be more discussion and input from Alaskans on major decisions like that, she said.
Capping the PFD immediately takes approximately $40-50 million out of the economy, causing fewer problems in one area of the state’s budget, and more in another, Thornton said.
“You can’t just kneejerk decicions (sic) because you don’t know what the ramifications are,” Thornton said.
She said cutting spending is an essential part of reducing the deficit, although when it comes to some major projects like new legislative buildings and other projects.
“You can’t say we are broke but we can buy all this stuff,” Thornton said. “It’s kind of like saying we’ve got credit cards so we aren’t broke. I know my budget at home doesn’t work like that.”
Most importantly, Thornton said she wants to make local voices a part of state decisions again.
She said she sees too much disconnect between legislative representatives and their constituents.
Thornton said she believes she may be able to bring one of the more absent populations back into state politics — the younger voters.
She has been a member on the Coalition of Student Leaders for the University of Alaska from 2012-14, and was a student advocate for the University of Alaska from 2009-14.
“It should be about, what is it ‘We’ are going to do,” Thornton said. “I know, maybe I have high goals.”
Reach Kelly Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org.