Eric Treider: Alaskans yearn for something different

  • By Eric Treider
  • Thursday, October 30, 2014 9:42pm
  • Opinion

What an incredible feeling! I walked into Safeway and an employee looked at me and asked, “Are you Eric?” I answered, “Yeah…?” She grinned big and then she got serious and said with conviction, “I VOTED for you!” and then she gave me a smart high-five.

Our message resonates with people who work for a living and who are tired of lawmakers who care a lot more about corporations than they do about you and me. It resonates with people who watch helplessly as drug and alcohol addiction wreck loved ones’ lives and destroy our peace of mind as out-of-control people steal from us and harm us — and yet our lawmakers invest public money in private refineries instead of in the treatment resources we need. Our message also resonates with restless, discouraged and disillusioned people who yearn for something different and who are willing to take a chance on a brighter future….one that doesn’t solely revolve around resource extraction.

Recently, Senator Micciche and I discussed building a new Alaskan industry around renewable energy technology — proactively investing some of our poorly-performing Permanent Fund bond investments in employee-owned ventures that would design, develop and manufacture tide-powered turbines, smaller and more efficient vertical axis wind turbines, solar panels and wood gasification systems. Our need for renewable energy will grow even stronger and we’ll need the clean, enduring, high-tech jobs this industry could create as fossil fuel production winds down.

We disagree about the timeline. Peter feels that we can ride the oil and gas wave a while longer and I believe that a project of this size and scope needs to begin now. We need to build a culture around it and that will mean introducing our young people to these concepts and equipping them with the skills to perform the necessary engineering, development and manufacturing work throughout their formative years. It will take a generation.

In my mind, this would be the result: Whenever anyone, anywhere in the world, needs the technology to harness nature’s energy, they’ll turn to Alaska for the very best solutions. It’s a big idea but we can grow into it. And we MUST grow into it if we want our children to have a future and if want to keep the lights on after the oil and gas are gone.

In recent years, our political discourse has devolved into a despicable spectacle — a battle of accusations and checkbooks, not ideas and dreams. Let’s stop focusing on the differences that divide Alaskans and celebrate the things we all agree upon: We value friends and family, a place to call our own, education, a clean environment, honest and efficient government, peace, privacy, security, respect and genuine opportunities instead of handouts.

Let’s quit listening to those who label others and who turn us against one another and begin talking with each other about what we can achieve together. Instead of climbing all over one another to get to the top, let’s cooperate and all get there together. As a non-partisan candidate, I am well-positioned to draw everyone together. And as one candidate who has accepted no special interest money and who has sharply limited individual donations, I don’t owe anyone any favors — and that’s why I don’t have a ton of signs. In a sense, my opponent’s signs are actually MY signs. Think about that.

Regardless of who wins these races — including ours — stay informed and watch the victors carefully! Ego and ambition can cause even well-intentioned people to venture down the wrong path.

Please join me in building an exciting, prosperous, secure future for our children!

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