The Republican primary candidates for Alaska House District 36 were in Wrangell Tuesday for a public question-and-answer session.
Chere Klein, Patti Mackey and Agnes Moran, all from Ketchikan, are competing for the chance to face Independent Dan Ortiz in the November general election.
The winner will replace Republican Rep. Peggy Wilson of Wrangell to represent Wrangell, Ketchikan and surrounding communities in the Alaska State House of Representatives.
About 15 residents were at the forum to ask questions of the candidates. Topics ranged from mariculture to the Public Employees’ Retirement System.
The three candidates said they would vote to keep the new oil tax system in the upcoming referendum. Moran and Mackey said there are problems with Senate Bill 21 and with the system that preceded it.
Klein said she worked with Rep. Wilson on Senate Bill 21.
“We have to be competitive with North Dakota, Texas, California. We’re down now to being the number four state in oil. So we needed to do something that would bring production into the pipeline again,” Klein said. “And I believe Senate Bill 21 will do that.”
Klein, Mackey and Moran all said, if elected, they would work to keep the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system viable.
Mackey said it is also worth looking at some new transportation solutions to go along with the ferry system.
“More and more you’re hearing about day boats, you’re hearing about roads and shortening the commutes between communities so that you can make some of those kinds of operational changes that could very well save the ferry system. And while I’m not saying that’s the way we need to go in the future, I do believe it’s worth taking a look at in order to make sure we can maintain viable transportation for ourselves,” Mackey said.
The candidates said they would also support new and expanded hydropower projects in the area.
All three candidates said they would aim to continue revenue sharing and would support funding the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS).
Moran said it is an important commitment to these communities.
“In the smaller communities, it is a huge impact,” Moran said. “So not only do we need to maintain the PERS and TRS reimbursement levels, we need to be aware and push back very hard on any indication that they’re gonna change or manipulate the amount of reimbursement.”
Klein, Mackey and Moran said, rather than implementing new taxes, they would aim to cut wasteful government spending in the event of decreased state revenues.
The primary election is August 19th.