Important choices on Tuesday’s ballot

  • Saturday, November 1, 2014 5:00pm
  • Opinion

Putting aside the millions of dollars being spent on the campaigns, the U.S. Senate race comes down to two questions: Which candidate is best for Alaska, and which candidate is best for our country?

Trying to look past the constant barrage of attack ads, cards and flyers in the mailbox and phone calls hasn’t been easy. We have not enjoyed the way this campaign has played out. Here in Alaska, we’ve always prided ourselves in doing things differently than they do it Outside. But with every election cycle, we see more and more Outside interests attempting to influence Alaska voters.

While it’s been frustrating to be the focus of so much politicking, it also points to the fact that we have come to a point where we in Alaska can no longer be so isolationist in our view of our relationship with the rest of the country. For much of the time that Alaska has been a state, we’ve measured the effectiveness of our Congressional delegation by how much funding and how many federal projects they’ve delivered for Alaska. It’s time to think beyond our state, and ask more than simply, “What’s in it for us?”

Mark Begich has done a good job representing Alaska’s interests in the U.S. Senate. We can point to a number of issues, including health care access for veterans and fishery issues, where Begich’s work has been beneficial to Alaskans.

But we can also point to a need for change in the U.S. Senate, and we have concerns that a Democrat-controlled Senate will simply continue with the status quo. We think a change in Senate leadership will move our country forward, and we think a vote for Dan Sullivan will accomplish that. Throughout his campaign, Sullivan has advocated for a smaller, less intrusive federal government. He has been consistent with his refrain that “there’s nothing wrong in America that can’t be fixed with what’s right with Alaska.”

We agree. We think what’s good for Alaska is also good for the rest of our country, and we want to see a senator with the same philosophy.

Our support comes with a caveat, and it has to do that barrage of political ads we mentioned earlier. We urge Sullivan to remember that it is the voters who send him to Washington, D.C., not the Outside interests that have become so prevalent here in Alaska over the past few months.

We also see a need for change in Alaska’s representation in the U.S. House. Don Young has held the state’s only seat in that body since 1973. We appreciate his tremendous contributions to Alaska over the past 41 years. But Young has spent too much time in the headlines for all the wrong reasons of late, and it’s time to pass the torch. Forrest Dunbar has demonstrated the ability to take that torch and run with it.

At the state level, the Legislature and administration will be wrestling with some major decisions, particularly as the natural gas pipeline project progresses. At the same time, with the price of oil down, the state will have touch choices to make in how it pays for government.

Sean Parnell should continue his work as governor. Under Parnell’s leadership, state spending is being reined in while progress on the natural gas pipeline is moving forward. In unpredictable times, it is crucial that our leadership be steady. While we may not agree with all of his decisions, the state of Alaska remains on a steady footing.

In the Legislature, Reps. Mike Chenault, District 29, and Kurt Olson, District 30, and Sen. Peter Micciche, District O, have proven themselves to be adept at handling complex legislation while exercising fiscal restraint. They’ve been attentive to their districts’ needs, and responsive to their constituents. We’ll need even more of that in the next couple of years as every penny of state spending is sure to be scrutinized.

If you’ve been following the political discourse, you may agree with what we’ve written here, or you may have come to a different conclusion. Either way, it’s important to make your voice heard. Tuesday is your opportunity to help shape the future of our state and our country. Polls are open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Vote.

— Peninsula Clarion

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