Two Nikiski candidates running for District 29

  • By KAYLEE OSOWSKI
  • Sunday, August 3, 2014 9:30pm
  • News
Two Nikiski candidates running for District 29

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of stories looking at area candidates for the Alaska Legislature.

 

Political newcomer Rocky Knudsen, a Democrat from Nikiski, is running against House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, for the District 29 House of Representatives seat.

Both names will appear on the ballot for the Aug. 19 Primary Election.

The Alaska Redistricting Board altered the boundaries for District 28, which Chenault currently represents, and renumbered it to District 29.

Chenault 

Chenault, 57, was first elected to the house in 2000.

“I ran (in 2000) simply because … I didn’t feel that Nikiski was getting good representation,” he said. “I was seeing things happening at the state level in Kenai, but I wasn’t seeing those same developments going on in North Kenai.”

Chenault said, like many other newly elected officials, he thought he would “change the world,” but found it’s a slow process.

“You just have to be persistent,” he said.

Chenault is vice-president of Qwick Construction Company and as a businessman, he said it was challenging to adjust to the deliberative process.

In 2009, Chenault became Speaker of the House.

“I try, in my position, to look at all the issues and try to make informed decisions that benefit my community and the constituents that live in it,” Chenault said. “And then I’ll look at the state issues and see how that parlays into particular pieces of legislation and that sways my opinion on how I vote.”

Without visiting communities throughout Alaska to learn about them, it’s difficult to make informed decisions on different pieces of legislation, he said.

“That’s why as Speaker, I’ve always been very open, to (legislators) especially, traveling around the state,” he said. “… What better way to learn than to get people out there and actually, one, see part of the state they represent and two, be introduced to different ways of life.”

Chenault said the citizens in his district are from “all walks of life” ranging from the oil and gas industry to education, two subjects Chenault said he feels very comfortable working to improve.

“I don’t concern myself with the things that folks want,” he said. “I concern myself more with the things that people need. We need good fire service areas, we need good schools, we need infrastructure to be able to move from one place to another.”

Presently, Chenault serves as the chair of the Committee on Committees and is a member of the Finance committee, the Labor & Commerce Committee, the Legislative Council and multiple Finance Subcommittees.

The biggest project Chenault said he has worked on during the last few years is the Alaska LNG Project.

If re-elected, Chenault hopes to continue to focus on oil and gas and education funding issues. But, he said, his No. 1 priority is trying to figure out a solution to the Upper Cook Inlet fish issues.

When he was 10 years old, Chenault’s family moved to Nikiski from New Mexico. He is married and has four children

“I want (my kids) to have the opportunities that I had in Alaska,” he said.

Knudsen 

Retired construction and maintenance industry employee, Knudsen, 60, has lived in Nikiski since 1986. He has previously lived in Palmer and was born in Montana.

Kundsen said he decided to run because he cares about the people of the Kenai Peninsula.

“Another reason I decided to run is because it wouldn’t be an election if people didn’t have a choice,” he said.

With his experience in construction as a journeyman, supervisor and manager, Knudson said he understands the working people and their views on issues.

One of his priorities, if elected, is to make sure Alaskans are trained and hired in-state.

“When Alaskans are employed, money stays here,” he said. “And I like to see people have good jobs with good wages with benefits. When people make good money, they spend money, they buy things, they pay taxes and they build our economy.”

With Nikiski as the proposed site for the Alaska LNG Project liquefied natural gas plant, if the project comes to fruition, he would like to see many of those jobs and jobs related to the project done by Alaskans.

Through his career, Knudsen has worked on different oil and gas industry projects. And while it is an important aspect of Alaska’s economy, Knudsen would like to see other energy sources explored.

“I’m very interested in tidal energy, especially here on the Peninsula,” he said. “It seems like a perfect place for it, and I think that we need to look at that type of energy for our future. I think eventually it would make the energy cheaper for the people here.”

And it’s something that should be looked into now, he said, for the future.

Getting Alaskans good jobs requires them to be well-educated, Knudsen said. And while Knudsen thinks that elected officials need to spend more wisely, education is one area where funding needs to be sufficient.

“I think the school districts need adequate funding to provide so they can provide good education for our children,” he said. “I don’t think when they get into situations where they have to layoff teachers and things like that I think that takes away from the education.”

Knudsen said government transparency and increased public input are also things he would like to improve.

“Everybody has opinions,” he said. “They need to express their opinions and a lot of times you can learn things from people. You learn from everybody. People just need to express their opinions because sometimes they just have some really good ideas.”

Knudsen is married and has two grown children and volunteers at the Nikiski Senior Center.

 

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion House Speaker Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, talks to a crowd Wednesday May 1 2013 during a combined Kenai and Soldotna Chambers of Commerce Luncheon at the Soldotna Sports Center in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion House Speaker Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, talks to a crowd Wednesday May 1 2013 during a combined Kenai and Soldotna Chambers of Commerce Luncheon at the Soldotna Sports Center in Soldotna, Alaska.

More in News

Bradley Walters leads the pack up Angle Hill on Wednesday, July 18, 2018, at the Salmon Run Series at Tsalteshi Trails. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Summer races kick off at Tsalteshi

The annual Salmon Run Series 5K races start on July 6 and continue every Wednesday through Aug. 3

Central Emergency Services staff wait to receive doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly mulls bond for new CES fire station

Replacement of the current station is estimated to cost $16.5 million

Buldozers sit outside of the former Kenai Bowling Alley on Thursday, June 23, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Old Kenai bowling alley comes down

The business closed in 2015

Landslide debris surrounds part of Lowell Point Road on Friday, June 3, 2022, in Seward, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly looks to mitigate future Lowell Point Road dangers

Assembly members approved legislation supporting agencies working to address the “repetitive hazards”

The Alaska Department of Health And Social Services building in Juneau has no visible signs indicating the department is splitting into two agencies as of Friday. Top officials at the department said many of the changes, both physical and in services, are likely weeks and in some cases months away. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Little sign of big change for DHSS

No commissioner at new department, other Department of Health and Social Services changes may take months

Nate Rochon cleans fish after dipnetting in the Kasilof River, on June 25, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
King closures continue; Kasilof dipnet opens Saturday

The early-run Kenai River king sport fishery remains closed, and fishing for kings of any size is prohibited

An "Al Gross for Congress" sign sits near the driveway to Gross’ home in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, after he announced plans to withdraw from the U.S. House race. Gross has given little explanation in two statements for why he is ending his campaign, and a woman who answered the door at the Gross home asked a reporter to leave the property. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Alaska judge rules Sweeney won’t advance to special election

JUNEAU — A state court judge ruled Friday that Alaska elections officials… Continue reading

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion 
Soldotna City Manager Stephanie Queen listens to a presentation from Alaska Communications during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska.
ACS pilots fiber program in certain peninsula neighborhoods

The fiber to the home service will make available the fastest internet home speeds on the peninsula

Most Read