The winner of Tuesday’s presidential election remains to be seen, as many national polls show a tightening race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.
What can be predicted with a fair degree of certainty is that, regardless of who wins the presidency, it will be incumbent upon Congress to provide the appropriate the check and balance to the new administration.
We think our current member of the U.S. Senate, Lisa Murkowski, is the candidate in the best position to advance Alaska’s interests with a new administration, something she has established a strong track record of doing during her tenure in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Murkowski chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Interior-Environment Subcommittee; and sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee — all important positions for Alaska.
Beyond her leadership positions and committee assignments, Murkowski has shown the ability and temperament to work with her fellow lawmakers, both in her party and across the aisle, to move important legislation forward. Meanwhile, some of the other candidates on the ballot can’t even find a way to get along in their own party. Murkowski’s statesmanship will be crucial for Alaska as the Senate’s Republican majority could very well shrink — if not turn to a minority — after Tuesday’s ballots are counted.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, we think Don Young will continue to be a strong voice for Alaska. During a visit to Soldotna in August, Young said that Congress needs to exercise better oversight over the executive branch — something we hope he’ll continue to push for in his no-nonsense style.
Further down the ballot, Kenai Peninsula voters have the opportunity to weigh in on who will fill seats in the Alaska Legislature. In several races, candidates are running unopposed. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, faced challengers in the primary election for the House District 31 seat, but the general election is uncontested. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, is running uncontested in Senate District P, and Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, is running unopposed for the House District 29 seat.
However, there are four candidates vying for the House District 30 seat to represent the Kenai-Soldotna area. Republican Gary Knopp, Democrat Shauna Thornton, nonpartisan Daniel Lynch and J.R. Myers have all brought different perspectives to the campaign, and we appreciate the varying points of view. There are ideas from each candidate that we hope the winner will take to Juneau when the Legislature convenes in January.
During a Chamber of Commerce forum this week, Knopp said something we tend to agree with: that the area’s representative in Juneau needs to have a realistic view of the state’s situation. We think Knopp is that candidate. As a member of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, Knopp has helped work through a number of contentious issues, experience that will be beneficial as the Legislature addresses Alaska’s challenges.
Again, we’re grateful to all the candidates who have put their name forward and given voters a choice during this election. You may not agree with our choices — that debate is part of a healthy democracy — but we hope you’ll exercise your right to choose on Tuesday. Poll are open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m.