Alaskans have big decisions to make at the polls this year. The last four years, and this one in particular, have given us a lot to think about. Regardless of our politics, we should all be taking a pause to ask, “What do we want the future of Alaska to be?” It is an important question; now more so than ever as we battle a pandemic and try to plot a course for the economic future of our state.
I am proud to have been born and raised in Alaska. In the few years after college that I lived Outside and worked in aerospace, I always dreamed of how I could come back and be a part of Alaska’s future. I finally moved home in 2015 to start a business here because I believe in this place and the people that make it so special. Our future is exciting, challenging and unwritten. I am excited to jump in and participate in the next 50 years of the story of this place that is both so ancient and, in many ways, so new.
Though we may have differing views on what we want that future to be, I think we can all agree that we Alaskans should be in the driver’s seat making the choices that shape where we are heading. Outside money, special interests, and large corporations should not be telling us how to live. They do not know Alaska like we do and I cannot imagine they care about it the same way we do.
That is why I support Ballot Measure 2. It shines a light on all the Outside money that floods our elections every year. It will force both donors and campaigns to name the actual source of any donation over $2,000. This is common sense, plain and simple.
I am also one of the roughly 58% of Alaskans that is registered unaffiliated. I choose my candidates not based on party loyalty but instead on their policies and ability to lead us to a better future. Ballot Measure 2 helps open up the primaries so that we can vote for people — not parties. You simply rank your preferred candidates to ensure that the person you most believe in gets your support, rather than settling for a lesser of two evils.
Simply put, I support Ballot Measure 2 because it ensures that every Alaskan has a voice at the ballot box by letting us put people over party and by preventing Outside money from steering our fate. No matter where we are going, we should be the ones taking the lead. It is an enormous responsibility, but it will be a future that we create ourselves. What could be better than that? And with diverse, independent, strong-willed Alaskans at the helm it’s a future that I believe in.
Ben Kellie is a steering committee member for Yes on 2 for Better Elections, as well as small business owner and rocket scientist (aerospace engineer), lifelong Alaskan, and undeclared voter.
• Ben Kellie