Candidate's name: Sean Parnell
Date of birth: November 19, 1962
Employment history: Former small business owner; former attorney; worked in industry; and served in public office (legislature and executive branch)
Previous public offices held (include dates): Lieutenant Governor (2006-present); Alaska State Senator (1996-2000); House of Representatives (1992-1996).
Previous unsuccessful runs for office: None
Education: Graduate of East Anchorage High School (1980); bachelor's of business administration, Pacific Lutheran University (1984); law degree, University of Puget Sound Law School (1987).
Military service: none
Spouse name: Sandy
Children: Grace and Rachel
Web site: parnellforcongress.com
1. Why are you running for office?
Washington is broken. The federal government overspends, overtaxes, and has breached our trust. I'm running to restore integrity and budget discipline. We can ensure that our children aren't saddled with debt tomorrow for the spending we do today. We can grow an economy by spending less, taxing less, and regulating less. By promoting individual freedom we empower our greatest resource, our people, to thrive rather than merely survive.
2. The most important issue in this election is _______.
The most important issues are restoring trust and fiscal restraint. The incumbent congressman has spent over $1.2 billion on attorneys from his campaign funds but can't tell us why. He proudly fuels an out of control Washington spending culture and consistently supports higher taxes. By restoring trust and bringing fiscal discipline to Washington, we can experience greater economic growth and individual freedom as a country.
3. What specifically should Congress do, if anything, to address rising energy prices?
Increase domestic supplies leading to energy independence by allowing more exploration and development to occur under quicker timeframes. We should NOT, as the incumbent suggests, raise gasoline taxes on Alaskans. Instead, we should open ANWR; we can streamline regulations so companies have consistent regulatory frameworks; we can incentivize conservation efforts.
4. If oil and gasoline prices continue to rise, could you support government price controls?
No, government price controls distort the market and ultimately would cost Alaskans more. Instead, we should permit increased resource development and move some of our state oil revenues to renewable energy, like hydro.
5. Do you support drilling in ANWR? If the answer is yes, tell us something new that you as a member of Congress can do to open the coastal plain to drilling?
Yes, I support drilling in the coastal plain of ANWR. The incumbent has shot ANWR legislation at the hoop 12 different times, and fallen short each time. I think Alaska needs a new messenger, one who can build relationships and solve problems. I can also work well with Governor Palin's administration to offer a swap of 2,000 acres of state land to the feds for 2,000 acres of ANWR's coastal plain moving into state ownership.
6. TransCanada has suggested the federal government can help the proposed Alaska gas line by acting as a "bridge shipper." That means the federal government would agree to buy enough gas to fill the line if necessary, or at least guarantee the equivalent revenue stream for the pipeline owner. Will you support legislation to do this?
The federal government already provided incentives for an Alaska gas line through credits, accelerated depreciation, loan guarantees, and a federal pipeline coordinator, among others. However, since then, the costs of steel and other products have risen dramatically. I'd be open to considering any idea that leads to a private sector, competitively built pipeline in Alaska's interests.
7. Do you support offshore drilling in Bristol Bay?
Our state and country suffer from high energy prices and the Bristol Bay region needs good paying jobs. The region also depends heavily on the fisheries resource. The question is how do we balance use and protection of the resources. I could support exploration in certain areas if the communities support it and provided the fisheries resources could be protected through stipulations, required operating procedures and other project specific procedures.
8. What can the federal government or Congress do to further a natural gas pipeline should state measures such as an AGIA license fail to pass, or fail to "induce" a pipeline?
I'd willingly consider any idea that leads to a private sector, competitively built pipeline in Alaska's interests. The federal government already provided incentives for an Alaska gasline through credits, accelerated depreciation, loan guarantees, and a federal pipeline coordinator among others. However, since then, the costs of steel and other products have risen dramatically, some adjustments may be warranted.
9. Some say oil companies have leased vast public acreage and are now sitting on the leases without drilling. Point Thomson in Alaska has been mentioned as an example. Do you believe this has anything to do with our energy crunch?
Very little. Instead, we need a Congress willing to explore and drill American oil and gas, rather than counting on 68 percent of America's oil coming from foreign sources. We jeopardize Alaska consumers and our national security by relying so heavily on foreign oil. As for Point Thomson, where the companies have failed to meet their commitments, the state has taken appropriate action to enforce the lease terms. Bottom line, Alaska has the resources all Americans need.
10. Rural Alaska has been hit particularly hard by high fuel prices. Are there specific steps Congress or a member of Congress should take to address this?
Since rural Alaska has the greatest potential for alternative energy sources, I would support efforts to incentivize wind projects and other alternative sources.
11. Should Congress continue President Bush's tax cuts to stimulate the economy? Explain.
Yes, I support lower taxes on Alaskans and therefore support reauthorizing the President's tax cuts. The incumbent congressman voted to raise income tax rates in 2008 and supports increasing federal gasoline taxes. I think that's misguided tax policy. The federal government ought to let citizens keep more of their hard-earned money because people make better decisions about where to spend their money than government can.
12. How important a priority is reducing the federal deficit? Explain.
The $490 billion deficit threatens our economic future. The deficit is part of Congress' out of control spending problem. Our congressman willingly participates in running up the deficit without regard for future generations. Deficit spending passes a debt to our children for our spending habits of today. This must change! Congress should live within its means, set spending limits, pass a balanced budget amendment, and give the president the line-item veto.
13. Should the U.S. tax code be simplified? Is it fair?
Yes, the tax code should be simplified and Alaskans' tax burden should be reduced. We need a pro-growth tax policy. I voted against a state-income tax while serving in the Alaska State Senate and I will vote to lower taxes in the U.S. House. Small business is at the heart of Alaska's economy and I will work to lower rates on small business owners. The current congressman voted to raise the income tax rate by .5 percent on some small business owners, and I oppose that. I believe Alaskans should keep more of their hard-earned money.
14. What should the future U.S. role in Iraq be?
We are grateful for our military service members and their families, especially now for those Fort Wainwright and Guard personnel who are deployed. In the future we will adopt a decreasing role as we hand over more and more responsibility to the Iraqis while their democracy takes root. This has always been the plan; it's a good plan, and we should stick to it.
15. How long do you believe the U.S. occupation should continue?
Until the U.S. military mission is complete, and the area is stabilized in a way that the Iraqi people have demonstrated self-sufficiency and the capability to protect and invigorate their democracy. Without stabilization, U.S. troops would be back in Iraq protecting our interests from Iran and from elements of radical Islam.
16. Should a date be set for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq? Explain.
The U.S. has begun a drawdown of troop strength following the surge. Setting a date for complete withdrawal does nothing except give the insurgents hope. I support the gradual drawdown of our troops as they complete their mission, not on a politically set timetable. Otherwise, we would be undoing all that our troops have sacrificed for.
17. What role should Congress have in deciding the kind of military approach the U.S. uses in Iraq?
Congress controls the purse. It is incumbent upon this body to stay informed of military plans and progress. This is accomplished through hearings and briefings with the military leadership, as General Petraeus does frequently. It is not the job of the Congress to second guess the professional execution of our policy goals. Congressional oversight ensures the military plans are congruent with our political ends.
18. Under what circumstances, if any, would you support a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons?
Iran is responsible for how they are viewed on the world stage. It is incumbent upon their leadership to make policy choices that stabilize their region. Acquiring nuclear capabilities does not stabilize the region. America should continue to support the diplomatic course outlined by the U.N. Security Council, which currently does not include a pre-emptive strike. Our country will, however, retain all its options if our national security is threatened.
19. How good a job is the military and the Veterans Administration doing in providing ongoing care to soldiers and ex-soldiers who served in the war? What specifically would you do to improve services?
Every veteran deserves quality health care and other benefits, including education, job-training and re-entry benefits. National defense is a constitutional spending priority and, veterans' benefits, therefore, must be a top priority. I would prioritize new spending for veterans' benefits and insure that the Veterans Administration continues to improve in its firm resolve to assist our troops.
20.What role do human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases play in global warming: None, some, most, or all? Explain.
Some, but the impact of human-caused emissions may be minor. The real issues are whether or not the release of carbon dioxide is a significant factor relative to natural temperature variability, what the likely consequences of warming would be, and what should be done about it.
21. What legislation currently in Congress comes closest to the policy you would advocate for dealing with climate change?
Two broad categories of climate change bills exist: traditional energy measures (containing mandates or incentives) and "cap-and-trade" legislation. I support incentives for energy conservation. I do not support cap and trade legislation, it is extremely costly to our economy with, as yet, uncertain, unknowable benefits. For every piece of legislation, I will ask, "What would the legislation accomplish toward reducing any adverse impacts of global warming?" And, "Would the benefits justify the costs?"
22. Coastal erosion is a serious issue in a number of rural Alaska villages, with discussions about relocating some communities. Do you believe this is appropriate or realistic? Explain.
I've seen firsthand the imminent danger faced by Kivalina and Shishmaref residents, and others. The first priority is to assure an evacuation route is in place for Alaskans' safety during major storm events. Thus, I would first fund evacuation corridors (road away from harm). Ideally, the evacuation corridor would lead to a possible relocation site. Relocation is an expensive, disruptive option and should be undertaken as a last resort. Public/private partnerships for funding could be explored.
23. Is it appropriate to use the polar bear listing as a threatened species to limit oil and gas development in the Arctic or regulate distant greenhouse gas emissions? What other steps, if any, do you think government and industry should take to protect Alaska's polar bear population?
No. The Endangered Species Act was not meant to limit oil and gas development, it was meant to protect the sustainability of animal species. As the U.S. Geological Survey pointed out, "It is currently beyond the scope of science to identify a specific source of carbon dioxide emissions and designate it as the cause of specific climate impacts at an exact location." Permitting decisions must be based on sound science, not conjecture.
24. What's your position on the proposed Pebble mine in southwest Alaska? How do you plan to vote on the "Clean Water" initiative on the August ballot?
I will vote against the water/mining initiative as I believe the state and federal public permitting processes must be allowed to work. Resource development decisions should be based on actual science and public input using the permitting process so we don't lose jobs and hurt our economy. Currently, our state and federal permitting processes weed out harmful projects and let others go forward with appropriate environmental safeguards.
25. Are changes needed in the way congressional earmarks work? Under what circumstances should members of Congress be allowed to direct federal spending to specific projects in their district?
Clean up earmark abuse! Nationally, Congress went from 2,600 earmarks in 2007 to over 11,600 in 2008. Abuse breeds where earmarks proliferate in the dark. The Coconut Road scandal demonstrates this fact, where a change was made to the bill in the clerk's office after the bill passed both the House and Senate. Earmarks should only be allowed if open and transparent, if they have a public hearing, if they are subject to public scrutiny.
26. What should Congress do, if anything, to help increase the supply of doctors in Alaska?
I support continued Congressional funding to prepare primary care physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, as well as incentives such as loan forgiveness in exchange for work in underserved areas.
Congress should assure that the Medicare/Medicaid programs are sustainable and adequately reimburse healthcare providers.
I support policies that drive consumer ownership, cost transparency and market-based solutions rather than government solutions, which will only add to inefficiencies already in existence.
27. Some major Alaska fisheries have been "rationalized." That is, individual shares have been assigned to fishermen and even to processors. Do you support this approach for more of Alaska's fisheries?
I do not support rationalizing more Alaska fisheries until we better understand the impacts of rationalization and consolidation on jobs, support businesses, and coastal communities. I support the North Pacific Council's reexamination of certain aspects of Bering Sea crab rationalization, including processor shares. While existing rationalization programs have some benefits, any new programs should focus on improving fishery economics and management without making it harder for Alaskans to enter fisheries.