Publisher’s Note: From time to time as we approach the coming election I intend to offer various candidates who are focusing on the issues relevant to this blog — Alaska oil, gas and fiscal policy — the opportunity to post guest columns on these pages.
The first of those is below, from J.R. Myers, The Alaska Constitution Party candidate for Governor. Surprisingly given the importance of each to Alaska’s future, Myers is one of only two candidates for Governor that is currently supporting both the retention of SB 21 and the adoption of sustainable budgets (the other is Libertarian Party candidate Carolyn “Care” Clift).
While some might question the efficiency of focusing on third party candidates, I am continually reminded this election cycle of the role played by Ross Perot during his 1992 Presidential run against then-President George H.W. Bush (R) and then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton (D). As analyzed over a decade later in a piece on the PBS Newshour:
The most successful of the third parties in any one election was the Reform Party, which in 1992 nominated Texas billionaire Ross Perot as its candidate for president. Perot ran on a platform that advocated reducing the federal budget deficit, an issue previously ignored in elections but one that would become a major part of almost every presidential campaign since. …
“[H]e was the first candidate really in a big way to float the idea that the deficit was a bad thing,” said historian Michael Beschloss. “By the time Bill Clinton was elected that fall, if he had not done something about the deficit he would have been in big trouble and that was largely Ross Perot’s doing.”
The parallels to the current campaign for Alaska Governor are intriguing. As with the two national parties in the run up to the 1992 election, Alaska’s two major political parties largely are either in denial (the R’s) or ignoring (the D’s) Alaska’s current fiscal situation. It will be interesting to see if third party challengers this fall, as well as other efforts, can put the issue in the public’s mind in a way such that the ultimate winner, even if not one of the challengers, will be in “big trouble” if something is not done about it when they take office.
Myers is going first in this series because, while not being challenged on the August ballot, he and his running mate for Lt. Governor, Maria Rensel, are in the midst of a petition drive to gather enough signatures to qualify to appear as a party on the November ballot. (By virtue of its performance in past elections the Libertarian Party candidate is guaranteed to appear on the November ballot.) Running this piece now will enable voters to evaluate whether they want to sign the petition. As I reminded myself when I signed their petition last week outside my local Carr’s, doing so does not commit the voter to voting for the party in November; it merely is a way of supporting the effort to ensure that the candidate — and their issues — have a voice in the coming campaign. (If you haven’t run into a petition gatherer yourself, you can nonetheless participate by going here.)
A Statement on Alaska’s Future
by J.R. Myers
Alaska Constitution Party Candidate for Governor
Alaska needs new leadership as soon as possible. We are in a crisis of our own making. Our current leaders are rapidly leading us to economic ruin with deficit spending to the tune of $7,000,000 million dollars every single day! We cannot afford them and their failed economic policies anymore. Our progress since statehood could all be undone in short order if we don’t make a real economic course correction now. We must not allow this to happen! Alaskans have a real opportunity to replace our failed leaders and their disastrous policies this November 4.
My family ties precede Alaska statehood. My grandparents homesteaded near North Pole. My father ran a dog sled miles into town to get supplies during the long dark interior winters. Their refrigerator was a hand dug hole in the permafrost. Life was challenging and rewarding. They believed in hard work, taking care of the family and neighbors helping neighbors. They and their generation have left us a precious legacy.
I have chosen to return to my childhood home of Alaska to continue my families’ pioneer tradition. Alaska is where I first learned to speak. Alaska is where I continue to exercise my voice as a concerned citizen and as an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves. We cannot afford to remain silent as our future is undermined. It is up to all of us working together to speak out and vote to keep Alaska a place of healthy and sustainable opportunities for our people.
We are not doing enough to capitalize on our arctic opportunities. We need to be forward looking in this regard. We must not cede any of our rights and prerogatives regarding our arctic waters and lands. We must vigorously assert our sovereign territorial claims. None of our territories should have been ceded to Russia in recent years, especially without full participation in the process from Alaskans and their leaders. This mistake is now becoming manifest on many levels. We must develop policies to encourage the establishment of arctic maritime and port infrastructure to take full advantage of opening shipping routes. We must take the lead in Arctic development which is an integral component of our future. As Governor of Alaska, I will insist upon a full seat at the Arctic table.
ANWR should be opened for responsible resource development. It is important for us to be good environmental stewards while we develop our resources in sustainable ways. The Alaska Pipeline proves that responsible development is possible. Enhanced technology and monitoring also assists our efforts at conservation. The issues with ANWR represent the continuing tension with the Federal government over land use in Alaska. This strikes at the heart of our self-determination as a sovereign people and state. While we need to maintain a healthy working relationship between all levels of government, we must also strike an ethical balance between the branches of government as our founders intended. Alaska and Alaskans deserve immediate possession and control of our rightful state lands, and reasonable access to federal land resources.
While I had originally signed the petition to bring Referendum #1 to a public vote, and had planned on voting yes, I have since reconsidered. I believe that we need to send a message that Alaska provides a stable business environment. We need to give the current tax regime a fair trial. We cannot afford to jeopardize or throw doubt upon Alaska’s commitment to economic vitality. At the same time, we need to be exploring and providing policies to encourage the development of our myriad other energy resources such as propane micro-generators, micro-hydro, wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, biomass, coal, increased efficiency technologies and conservation. Alaska could prosper from the development of countless value added products, regional food production and versatile agricultural products such as Hemp and products made from our super foods such as our berries and fish. I will be voting No On One with an eye towards a healthy sustainable economy for Alaska’s future.
Alaska is now facing years of projected budget shortfalls. The answer is to decrease size and cost of government. Increasing revenue will only feed the beast. The state is overspending in virtually every area. That is why across the board cuts will be required in the very near future. Alaska cannot afford deficit spending of $7,000,000 million dollars a day. We need to have a serious conversation about the proper size and role of state government in Alaska. We can simply no longer afford the status quo of irresponsible overspending. For instance, I propose that we review all non-violent cases currently within the Alaska corrections system and release many prisoners to their families and communities. I will downsize our expensive prisons. Further, it is apparent that we will need to take concrete steps to protect our savings and PFD from potential legislative raids. I would also propose that we create a program whereby Alaskans can invest part or all of their PFDs in special Alaska tax free investment funds or bonds that would only be directed towards Alaska businesses and projects.
Schools in Alaska are adequately funded. Generally speaking, we don’t need any more new public schools. We don’t need any more public school administrators. More money poured into public education has failed to improve educational levels. We need to take better care of our existing structures. We also need to keep fighting to diversify educational choices in Alaska by encouraging more private, parochial and home school options. I also oppose the Common Core curriculum and any attempts to further federalize education, which is the proper responsibility of families, local communities and the state.
The State of Alaska cannot afford to directly fund multiple big-ticket items. The Susitna Dam project is questionable and needs careful review. The LNG pipeline is not going to serve the everyday needs of Alaskans for affordable energy to heat their homes and run their businesses here in Alaska. We need to look towards developing our internal energy infrastructure for the benefit of Alaskans. The Knik arm bridge is a local transportation issue. The Juneau access road is one of the most poorly conceived projects of them all. It is a total waste of an estimated $500,000,000 million dollars. It is an avalanche prone and generally hazardous driving route and overall environment catastrophe that would still end in a ferry terminal. We need to maintain the existing Alaska Ferry system. That makes the most sense for transportation in SE Alaska.
As Governor, my budget target will be lean and sustainable. I propose across the board spending cuts spread out over my first four years in office until we’ve achieved this goal. I will use the powerful Line Item Veto as required. The state should not seek to be our economic engine. The state exists to protect individual liberties and private property rights. These form the social foundation which allow individual and corporate investment and progress.
I have spent my life in service to others and to my community. I have tried to improve everyplace I have called home. I am not a lawyer or career politician. I am a full-time working Alaskan. I am a counselor. I am extremely concerned about the future of Alaska and Alaskans. I am not beholden to special interests. I will uphold our Alaska Constitution, and the rule of law in Juneau. I am not afraid to make politically unpopular decisions. I will exercise prudent fiscal restraint, including the line item veto, as required. I will not govern according to polls, but rather according to the rule of law, sound fiscal policy and a clear conscience. I will appoint only Alaskans to serve in my administration. I will be the Governor of ALL Alaskans.
We need a hopeful vision for our future. Alaska desperately needs courageous, principled and responsible leadership. Alaskans want leaders who will serve the best interests of the people, not themselves. We have been given too many empty promises coupled with reckless record breaking deficit spending by those who falsely claim to be fiscal conservatives. The current Governor and Legislature have spent 1/3 of our savings in just the last two years! If we don’t get control of the situation now, we are facing more raids on the savings fund, implementation of statewide sales and income taxes and the erosion of the PFD. I don’t want any of that to happen, and I need your help to do something about it. This election is an opportunity for the People of Alaska to reclaim our government through the ballot box. If everyone who agrees with this message votes for me, we win!
This campaign is about building a viable long-term future for Alaska upon a firm Constitutional footing. I need your prayers, support and votes to keep up this fight for the future of All Alaskans! Let’s make history on election day! God Bless Alaska!
Honoring Our Heritage, Pioneering Our Future!
J.R. Myers for Alaska Governor 2014