Alex Koplin is a founding member of Kenai Peninsula Votes. (courtesy photo)

Alex Koplin is a founding member of Kenai Peninsula Votes. (courtesy photo)

Voices of the Peninsula: 1 candidate dined, 47 to go

By Alex Koplin

Last month, I wrote a satirical piece for the Peninsula Clarion about how I research candidates.

I went on to say that I extend a dinner invitation to all the candidates running for office, because the best way to learn about someone is to have a meal with them. I explained that I was going to invite the 48 candidates, one at a time, in alphabetical order. The first candidate in the race for Don Young’s seat in this Special Primary Election is Denny Aguayo, and that is where I would begin with my invites.

Well, sometimes satire can turn into real life and that is exactly what happened when I received a phone call from Mr. Aguayo (from here on I will refer to him as Denny). Denny read the Clarion article and saw his name, and he reached out. We talked and arranged for a visit. Denny and his wife, Belle, drove down from Nikiski to meet last week in Homer. We met at Fat Olives, and the whole experience was enjoyable and memorable. Denny and Belle (it was her birthday that day) were already there when we arrived, and so Cindy, Heath and I sat down to join them.

Denny was full of life. He was ready to talk and we were receptive. He spoke about a variety of things. He feels that the United States has fallen and asked, “If we lose the United States, don’t we lose everything?” He doesn’t like the word politician; instead, he refers to himself as a statesman. He thinks outside the box. He wants to connect from the more personal side, and therefore social media platforms are not his thing, even though he understands the relevance of this kind of messaging. But he is a people person, and that is why he drove all the way down to meet us. He feels that meeting in person brings out the best. He also said that it is all about faith, and that we’ve lost faith in our system. He is running as a nonpartisan candidate. He wants to bring everybody to the table and hear all points of views. He believes that the economy is his top priority and he mentioned that he wanted to help the youth who are just getting started and need help right now to make it. He also mentioned in an earlier phone conversation that he wants to engage the senior population more.

Denny is very personable and passionate about life. He wants to see changes in government. As we were finishing our meal, the waitress brought us a slice of birthday cake, and we all sang “Happy Birthday” to Belle. Her smile was priceless. It was a wonderful two hours.

In this day and age of endless reporting, when bad news outweighs the good news, it was nice to have a sit-down meal with one of the 48 candidates who are running for the U.S. House of Representatives for Alaska.

It was encouraging to listen to someone so enthusiastic about making things better. I didn’t agree with everything Denny said, but there were ideas and concepts that I felt would help move us along. He allowed me to gain insight into what he is working on. Denny has the courage and the energy to put his hat in the ring and keep the conversation going about what he feels is best for Alaska today and in the future.

Alex Koplin has lived on the Kenai Peninsula for 34 years. He looks forward to the day that we can all talk with each other in a peaceful manner, be respected, and listen to each other with an open mind.

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