This undated file photo shows the Trans-Alaska pipeline and pump station north of Fairbanks, Alaska. (AP Photo/Al Grillo, File)FILE - This undated file photo shows the Trans-Alaska pipeline and pump station north of Fairbanks, Alaska. The future of Alaska’s unique program of paying residents an annual check is in question, with oil prices low and an economy struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Al Grillo, File)

This undated file photo shows the Trans-Alaska pipeline and pump station north of Fairbanks, Alaska. (AP Photo/Al Grillo, File) FILE - This undated file photo shows the Trans-Alaska pipeline and pump station north of Fairbanks, Alaska. The future of Alaska’s unique program of paying residents an annual check is in question, with oil prices low and an economy struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Al Grillo, File)

Alaska Voices: Meet the people behind Ballot Measure 1

I simply want you to understand the kind of Alaskans we are.

  • Monday, October 26, 2020 11:50pm
  • Opinion

I want Alaskans to know about the kind of people I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the last year and a half as our little group of Alaskans worked to give you the opportunity to vote on whether or not we receive a Fair Share of Alaska’s oil — with Ballot Measure 1.

I am not going to write about the benefits passage of Ballot Measure 1 will bring Alaskans. I simply want you to understand the kind of Alaskans we are.

One of them is Vic Fischer. Vic helped write the Alaska Constitution. Vic is the only delegate who wrote our Constitution who is still living. Vic knows our history because he’s lived it. This story tells you what a fighter Vic is. We had organized a sign-waving event. A simple event where we hold signs and wave at passing cars. Vic came, despite a problem he had with his leg. But there he was, at 96 years young, climbing a highway embankment, in some discomfort, so he could help, one more time.

Ed Davis, from Fairbanks, is a former oil industry engineer. Ed worked tirelessly gathering some of the 39,000 signatures we gathered during this phase of the campaign. While gathering signatures isn’t unusual, doing so in the winter is. Ed was often outside, in Fairbanks, gathering signatures in the dark of December at temperatures down to -40 F. It was because of the hard work of all our signature-gatherers that we accomplished something that has never been done before — a massive signature-gathering campaign during winter.

Jane Angvik, a prime sponsor of this initiative, has been working on this effort for a year and a half. Jane has volunteered lots of her time as many of us have. During the campaign Jane suffered a heart attack. A day after getting released from the hospital she was back at work, doing her utmost to guide this effort. Jane would have been forgiven if she had wanted to take a week or two off, but she would have none of it. Jane is driven to see this effort through to a successful completion. (Jane’s fully recovered).

Robin Brena has brought brains, hard work, and a personal fortune to this effort. Here, I have to stop and give Robin’s wife, Barbara, credit. She has been very supportive of allowing us to have Robin’s time because she knows how important this initiative is. Many spouses would hesitate at consenting when their spouse asked to spend over a million dollars of family money to fund such an effort. But she did not. What was underreported was how Robin had to go to the Alaska Supreme Court, twice, to push back an effort by Big Oil to prevent Alaskans from voting on this issue, and another time when Alaskans were not going to be given honest ballot language when they voted. Robin prevailed, twice, with the Supreme Court. Alaskans should be mindful of the work that went into giving them the chance to vote.

Sen. Joe Paskvan of Fairbanks has spent many hours writing opinion pieces and making presentations to groups of Alaskans about the Fair Share Act. One day I called Joe to ask him his thoughts about something we were working on. After he answered the phone, I could tell by his voice something wasn’t right. I asked him if everything was OK. He hesitated, and told me, no, that his Mom had passed away several hours earlier. I expressed my condolences and told him I’d call him back at a better time. Joe said, no, it was important we talk about the initiative. We did, and my already profound respect for Joe grew.

During the campaign hundreds of Alaskans have donated their time and money to this effort, far more than I can recognize here. These great Alaskans have stood up for our state at a time when many elected officials have failed us. We offer Alaskans a chance to vote on whether we will have new revenue when no one else has. Many of us worked on the SB21 referendum six years ago where we warned Alaskans what would happen if SB21 was not overturned. You may now make a decision about who has been telling you the truth, and who has not.

I’m voting “yes” on Ballot Measure 1. I hope you do, too.

Merrick Peirce of Fairbanks is one of the three prime sponsors of the Fair Share Act, along with Robin Brena and Jane Angvik. Peirce is the former CFO and board member of the Alaska Gasline Port Authority. He served Gov. Sarah Palin on the Department of Revenue Transition team and Gov. Bill Walker’s transition team on energy. Peirce is also a ConocoPhillips shareholder.

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