The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Zachariah Bryan
LOG Staff 

Walker, Fleener want to represent Alaskans

 

Zachariah Bryan | LOG Staff

Gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker and Lieutenant Governor candidate Craig Fleener say that Governor Sean Parnell is doing a poor job of representing Alaskans. Not a career politician, Walker wants to do what is best for Alaskans.

Gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker, an oil attorney and former mayor of Valdez, has a message: He wants Alaskans to run Alaska.

"We need to be more aggressive as a player and not sit in the nosebleed seats watching someone else carve up Alaska's future," he said. "We need to be on the field." In an interview with The Drums, he explained that current governor, Sean Parnell, is not a man of the people. His recent actions to cut taxes for oil companies, while asking for nothing in return, is akin to betraying Alaska, Walker said.

"Alaska needs somebody on our side of the table. He's clearly on the other side of the table. ... He's sitting over there wearing the wrong colored uniform," Walker said. While his words about Parnell's actions are harsh, he said in the end it's up to the people. In the upcoming election, Alaska residents will be voting on Ballot Measure One, a referendum to repeal Senate Bill 21, the oil tax cuts approved by the Alaska Legislature last year.

"If the voters say it stays in place, it stays in place," Walker said. "If the voters say it goes away, it goes away, and we will bring in something balanced and that will be good for Alaskans as well."Still, Walker was not shy in expressing his opinion of SB 21.

"They've gone too far," he said.

This isn't the first rodeo for Walker. He ran against Parnell in 2010, but lost in the primaries. While Walker ran as a Republican that year, this year is running as an independent, so he can be in the "championship game, not the preliminaries." He argued that the Republican party has strayed from what it used to be, describing himself as a classic-styled Hammond or Hickel conservative.

Joining Walker is Craig Fleener, a former deputy commissioner of Fish and Game and a former Gwichyaa Zhee Tribal Councilmember, as well as a major in the U.S. Air Force Air National Guard. Fleener is an Athabaskan Alaska Native who grew up in Fort Yukon.

Putting Fleener on the ticket effectively broadens the scope of Walker's candidacy by bringing subsistence and Alaska Native issues to the forefront.

One of Fleener's goals would be to include Alaska Natives in the conversation. He said the issues that rural Alaskans save are often pushed to the side in favor of the major population centers, such as Fairbanks and Anchorage. Rural Alaska needs greater representation in the state, he said.

"We will have a very good cross-section of Alaskans from all the regions, from all the Alaskan groups," Fleener said. "There is so very little representation in our government. It's too little; it's exclusionary. We must involve the folks on all the sides of the issues."

Walker and Fleener are also concerned about Alaska's financial future, saying that Alaska needs to recognize that the price of oil is not going to jump as dramatically as they thought and that they are spending $2 billion a year that they don't really have.

"There's simply no plan to get out of it. The plan right now is don't do anything about it and everybody ignores it and everybody gets reelected," Walker said. "We think the first step on fiscal problems right now is admit we have one. Second one is we need to stop digging. We need to stop funding projects that make no sense." Walker referred to the $60 million remodel of legislative offices in Anchorage.

Walker and Fleener are concerned about other issues. They want more vocational training for rural Alaskans, they want to effectively manage fish and game resources so they last into the foreseeable future, they want to create better transportation and port infrastructure, they want to create an energy plan and they want to help push mines forward like Donlin Gold to create more jobs.

In the end, according to Walker, they want to do what's best for Alaska.

"I'm not a career politician and I don't wanna be. I wanna go out and fix Alaska's problems," Walker said. "... I think one of the things you'll see with our administration is we're men of action. We won't sit back."

 

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