Alaska Voices: Walker is the only candidate who can tackle tough Alaska issues

Walker is the only candidate who can tackle tough Alaska issues

In Mike Dunleavy’s recent column, “A Deficit of Trust,” the former, partial-term state senator blames others for his own failures as a legislator, a very common but deceitful defense tactic.

In 2015, following the collapse in oil prices and Alaska’s revenues, Sen. Dunleavy and the Republican-controlled legislature were afraid to offer ideas for revenue; they dug in and insisted there would be no solution but to cut state jobs and services. We are still paying the price: In the face of rising crime, they cut prosecutors, troopers, and treatment options.

After months of legislative inaction, special sessions, and important bills to pay with no money, Gov. Bill Walker demonstrated the courage and independence needed to make the tough decisions. Looking at the numbers, pretty much everyone with a calculator agreed that the state would need to tap into the Permanent Fund to fund basic services like schools, infrastructure, and public safety.

Gov. Walker capped the dividend and reinvested the rest back into the Permanent Fund, so that it could continue providing PFDs for generations. Following Walker’s leadership, the next two years, the legislature stepped up and arranged for reductions to preserve the PFD and its earnings income. We all, including Mr. Dunleavy, need to stick to the truth on this issue.

I have other concerns with Mike Dunleavy. In 2015, he infamously attempted to use his sway in the Republican-controlled senate to block the popular safety bills, Erin’s Law and Bree’s Law. With Gov. Walker’s support, I’m grateful a bipartisan legislature ignored Dunleavy and passed the laws. Now age-appropriate K-12 healthy relationship education is provided in our public schools, with a parental opt-out provision. Anecdotally, teachers indicate students already demonstrate improved character, refusal, and reporting skills.

I’m grateful to Gov. Walker for many actions he took for Alaskans his first term. In the 2014 Governor’s race, Walker, Mallott and Hollis French cooperated for the good of the state, established the Walker/Mallott “Unity Ticket” and eliminated an ill-fated, three-way ballot race. By unifying, the Walker/Mallott team defeated Gov. Parnell.

Immediately, in January 2015, Gov. Walker helped Alaska begin to heal from Parnell’s Alaska National Guard Sexual Assault scandal by appointing Col. Laurie Hummel as Adjutant General for the Guard. She got right to work, sorted out the problems, and established a well-functioning Guard for Alaskans.

Over Gov. Walker’s first term I’ve observed his appointed commissioners testify in committees with profound grace, respect and expertise. He has put together an incredible team that includes leaders from both sides of the political spectrum. They deserve our trust and gratitude.

And we owe our gratitude to Gov. Walker for listening to Alaskans and expanding Medicaid. The resulting federal influx of dollars for the state has brought better health to over 40,000 Alaskans, and has boosted our health care industry and services. It is the one bright spot for job growth over the course of our recovery from this recession.

In his first term, Gov. Walker and his administration championed public safety bills like Erin’s and Bree’s Law, SB 54, HB 312, and more quality-of-life Alaska bills than I’ve seen enacted in decades, including a bill to process our backlogged rape kits. Gov. Walker stopped state spending on past governors’ and legislatures’ sketchy boondoggle projects that wasted billions of state dollars for decades, including the Knik Arm Bridge and the LIO building on Fourth Avenue in Anchorage.

And the best is yet to come. Gov. Walker has managed to bring the Alaska LNG (natural gas line) closer to reality than ever before. From hindsight of the 1970s Trans-Alaska Pipeline (TAP) project, I understand the LNG project’s value to Alaskans. My family is comfortable today because the TAP provided the opportunity for 20-somethings like us, friends and family members, to move up to a new status: homeowners. Walkers’ LNG project is well-developed and almost all the pieces are in place to uplift a new generation of Alaskans and provide cheap energy across the state.

Dunleavy is the one who is untrustworthy: he offers no plans; his numbers don’t add up; he doesn’t show up. Mike Dunleavy was an unreliable rural school superintendent and legislator; when things got tough, he quit. He would only disappoint us as governor. In comparison to Gov. Walker’s expertise on all aspects of the LNG project, Dunleavy knows little about it. We must re-elect Gov. Walker. He is the most knowledgeable candidate on current state matters and is the only proven candidate to manage Alaska’s issues and opportunities over the next four years.

Barbara McDaniel is a lifelong Alaskan who resides in Wasilla.

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