Stevens on the ballot for southern, central Kenai Peninsula

Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, was in Homer recently to meet with voters of the recently formed Senate District P, a product of redistricting. While the district’s boundaries may be new — they encompass House Districts 31 and 32, including the southern Kenai Peninsula and stretching southwest to Kodiak and southeast to Prince William Sound — Stevens is a familiar face. He represented the southern peninsula until 2012.

“The district has a lot more in common,” said Stevens of District P. “From Kodiak through Homer, including Seldovia, and into the Prince William Sound area it’s all coastal, all fisheries-oriented.”

District P stretches up to the central Kenai Peninsula, including Kasilof.

Stevens served in the House of Representatives from 2001-2003. He has served in the Senate since then and was Senate President from 2009-2012. Of the long list of committees on which he has served, Stevens’ most recent assignments include the World Trade Committee, the Legislative Council Joint Committee and the Education Committee.

“Education is right down my alley,” said Stevens, retired after 25 years as a University of Alaska professor of history and communications.

He emphasized the importance of early education, specifically pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, reading and the pupil-to-teacher ratio.

Although Alaska has not accepted “Common Core,” an initiative that sets nationwide standards for language and math, the state has developed its own version that attempts to address specific state needs.

“The reason to have standards is to make sure kids who graduate from high school in Alaska are capable of being competitive with anyone else anywhere in the world, making sure our kids are ready to go out to college or the job market and are up to speed.”

Fisheries are another area of importance to Stevens. His personal involvement with Alaska fisheries began in 1970, when he came to Alaska to work at Northern Processors, a seafood processing company owned by his family in Old Harbor.

After being elected to the House, Stevens was appointed to co-chair the Alaska Salmon Task Force and distributed funds the late Sen. Ted Stevens, not a relative, secured for the state’s fisheries.

“That money helped fishermen replace engines, helped processors purchase new equipment to process salmon in a different way,” said Stevens.

“A lot went more toward filleting fish, freezing them and selling them that way.”

Now, Stevens said the need is to ensure funding for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

“A lot of our product goes to Europe and Asia. It’s important that marketing is maintained,” he said.

Asked about the Nov. 4 ballot measures, Stevens was quick to say he has “one vote like everyone else. My vote is no more important than anyone else.”

With regard to the ballot measure to tax and regulate the production, sale and use of marijuana, Stevens said, “I understand that it is probably going to pass, but I’m really concerned about it. I wish we could delay it for a couple of years and see how it works in Washington and Colorado.”

He added, however, that if the public votes in favor of the measure, “it’ll be the law and then it’s our responsibility as legislators to figure out how it works.”

Raising the minimum wage is another measure Stevens believes will pass. He recognizes the challenge for people entering jobs that don’t pay enough to support a family, but also is aware employers, such as seafood processors, are concerned about the additional costs of doing business.

With regard to the ballot measure addressing development of the Pebble mine by requiring the Legislature to approve future large-scale metallic sulfide mines in the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve, Stevens said he has “always been very concerned about what would happen if a mine developed there. I personally don’t see how you can develop an open-pit mine and not have an impact on water quality and salmon.” He will vote yes on that ballot measure.

In August, voters turned down an attempt to repeal Senate Bill 21, Gov. Sean Parnell’s effort to increase oil production and investment dollars in Alaska’s oil industry. As a result, Stevens predicted the state might have some challenging times.

“The public voted and all we can do and hope to heaven it works,” said Stevens.

“We won’t know for a long time. Will it lead to more production, more wells, more investment by big oil? All we can do is hope it will.”

Visiting Homer was an opportunity for Stevens to view changes that have occurred since he represented the southern peninsula. In particular, he noted work being done at the harbor that includes replacement of float, construction of a new harbormaster office and development of a vessel haul-out area.

“If you live in Homer and are here every day, you don’t see the multitude of changes that have happened in four, five years. But if you take the time to think about it, there are some big changes,” said Stevens.

“It’s fun to come back and see the fruition of things that started when I was representing Homer. I really enjoy it here. It’s a wonderful community.”

McKibben jackinsky can be reached at

More in News

In this March 19, 2020, file photo Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, talks with reporters following a Republican policy lunch on Capitol Hill in Washington. Murkowski acknowledged Thursday, June 4, that she’s “struggling” over whether she can support President Donald Trump given his handling of the virus and race crises shaking the United States. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
Mattis emboldens GOPers to criticize Trump

Murkowski on Thursday called the rebuke by Trump’s first Pentagon chief “necessary and overdue.”

A pair of tents sits at the Infinity Pools above the Tutka Backdoor Trail in Kachemak Bay State Park on July 9, 2019. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
State officials urge Alaskans to get outside

During a virtual town hall, commissioners fielded questions from the public on state recreation.

Nonresident COVID-19 cases nearly double; 8 residents test positive

Seventeen of the 18 new nonresident cases are workers in the seafood industry.

Photo provided by Ocean Bluff B&B
                                Tammy Kehrer of Palmer sits on the deck overlooking Cook Inlet at Ocean Bluff B&B in Kasilof. Kehrer is the daughter of owner Kathy Carlisle.
B&B bookings take hit due to virus

Owners have been getting feelers from in-state visitors, but so far reservations have been rare.

A king salmon during the 67th annual Golden North Salmon Derby at the Don D. Statter Memorial Boat Harbor in August 2013. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Low king counts result in closures on southern Kenai Peninsula

As of Sunday, video weirs and sonar had counted 184 king salmon at the Anchor River.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks during a Friday, March 27, 2020 press conference in the Atwood Building in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor)
Revised travel mandates to begin Friday

Those arriving from outside the state must self-quarantine, but revisions allow for exceptions.

Nikiski Fire Station #2, seen here on July 15, 2019 in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
3 in Nikiski fire service test positive for virus

11 members of the department have been quarantined due to the possibility of COVID-19 exposure.

The Devil’s Creek Trail in Chugach National Forest, seen June 15, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
During pandemic, Chugach National Forest mostly stays the same

One of the differences will be in how much volunteer help the forest gets.

In front and from left to right, Aaron Ford, Karianna Ford and Jenni Stowe hold signs at a protest on Sunday, May 30, 2020, at WKFL Park in Homer, Alaska, in support of people of color who have been the subject of police violence, including George Floyd, a man who died May 25, 2020, in a police encounter in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In addition to the “We (heart) our po po” sign — “po po” is slang for “police” — there also was a sign that read “Thank you HPD.” (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Homer residents organize multiple demonstrations on racial injustice

Gatherings, protests and demonstrations have been held in Alaska from Anchorage to Haines to Bethel.

Most Read