When I travel around the state — from Fairbanks to Ketchikan and all places in between — I hear constantly from Alaskans who are tired of the political scene in Alaska — the apathy, lack of direction, and the complete lack of results. I hear from Alaskans who know we can do better.
Alaskans tell me they are concerned about our crime wave, and our unemployment rate, which is the highest in the country. I hear from Alaskans who don’t understand how we can be the richest state in the nation in terms of our incredible natural resources, yet be one of only two states mired in recession. I hear from Alaskans who were told there would be no need to impose taxes or take their PFD, yet that is exactly what is occurring. Alaskans have watched Alaska transform from a state where one could make an incredible living by working hard into a welfare state where a handout has replaced a hand up.
I have heard from Alaskans who once boasted about the number of fish and moose they could store in the freezer for their families, who now no longer hunt and fish because poor management has reduced our fish and game stocks significantly. And I have met Alaskans who have given up and are moving south. The dream of “North To The Future” that once held so much promise for so many now seems lost. In light of all this, the solution is clear: if we want to turn our great state around, we need a new person in the governor’s office. I would like to be that governor.
There is no doubt we have serious challenges that must be tackled head-on. But unlike some decision-makers who continually complain about the State not having enough money for government while increasing spending, I am optimistic and hopeful about our future. When some lament the lack of “new revenue” (that’s code for taxes, by the way) and say government has no other choice but to take your PFD and income, I wonder if they have forgotten it’s the people of Alaska they are serving- not the government bureaucracy.
We can get out of this mess. Huge new oil discoveries have been made on the North Slope, fields that have real, near-term potential to add significant amounts of new oil into the pipeline. Tourism is shattering records for visitors to Alaska. The world’s demand for our resources is huge. The amount of potential in the Ambler Mining District alone is nothing short of staggering. With a couple of regulatory tweaks, we can once again enjoy a robust timber industry employing thousands of Alaskans. In short, Alaska’s massive reserves of natural resources can help turn this economy around, and not just by simply praying for oil prices to go up, but by fast-tracking projects that promise to hire thousands of Alaskans and return our state to its former prosperity.
In the meantime, we should run our state government as a tight ship, reducing waste and abuse, and finding efficiencies. If the legislature and the governor work together to do the hard work of tightening our belts, we will not only get through this slump, but grow our economy, create new wealth, new jobs, and new revenue without taxing hard working Alaskans or taking the PFD. Unfortunately, the current administration has tried to sell Alaskans a narrative that the only way forward is to the opposite, a philosophy with which I fundamentally disagree.
What our current administration fails to recognize is that until the citizens of this great state see proof that government is running as efficiently as the private sector, voters will never accept a PFD veto or taxes. Who can blame them?
Ultimately, I’m running because I have a passion for the everyday Alaska we all love: the great outdoors, neighbors who look out for each other, and a government that serves, not demands. I am an Alaskan who wants limited government, minimal political drama, and leaders who work for the best interest of citizens, not activists, special interests, or career politicians.
If elected, I will strive to put state government in its rightful place — as the protector of our most basic liberties, not as our nanny or overlord— and put the people in their rightful place — as the true governors and shapers of our shared future.
Mike Dunleavy is a Republican gubernatorial candidate for Alaska and former state senator for Matsu, Copper Valley, Delta Junction, and Valdez.