Senate candidate Q/A: Scott McAdams (D)

October 15, 2010 

Candidate's name: Scott McAdams

Party: Democrat

Date of birth: Oct. 10, 1970

Occupation: Director of Sitka Community Schools

Current employer (with starting date): Sitka Community Schools

Employment history (please include starting and ending months and years):

Teacher, Riverdale Unified School District, California, May 2000-June 2001

Program coordinator, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Sitka, fall 2001-fall 2002

Supervisor of museum protection and visitor services, Sheldon Jackson Museum, employed by the state Division of Archives and Museums, fall 2002-fall 2009

Director, Sitka Community Schools, fall 2009-present

Previous public offices held (include dates):

Mayor of city and borough of Sitka, 2008-October 2010

Member of Sitka School Board, 2002-2008

Previous unsuccessful runs for office (include dates):

Post-secondary education (please includes dates and degrees):

Bachelor's in secondary education, Sheldon Jackson College

Military service (starting and ending dates, last rank, specialty):

Spouse's name: Romee McAdams

Children: Kaity, Chloe and Gavin

In what states have you lived for at least six months? In what countries?

Alaska, California, Washington, North Dakota

Web site:


1. Why are you running for office? (Up to 100 words)

I'm running for office to send Alaska values to Washington. Alaska needs a senator that will fight for the important federal investment to continue developing our young state, someone who will keep our promises to seniors and believes in the promise of our children. I will work to bring our natural resources to market and put Alaskans to work. I will never let Washington's partisan politics get in the way of Alaska communities' needs. We must leave our children with a stronger, more prosperous state.

2. If elected, what are the three most important things you want to accomplish during your first/next term? (Please be specific.)

In no particular order:

I will work to finally open the natural resources that have been locked up in ANWR by political wrangling and use the federal revenues to create a Renewable Energy Permanent Fund for America.

I will make sure that No Child Left Behind is truly reformed to remove the unfunded federal mandates and national testing standards that weaken our schools.

I will fight to finally get Alaska a fair share of offshore oil and gas revenues like Louisiana gets.

3. What specific changes, if any, will you propose or support for the Social Security system?

I will battle any attempt to weaken or eliminate the Social Security through privatization, benefit reductions, increases in the retirement age, or other methods. I have proposed lifting the artificial tax cap that benefits the wealthy and results in millionaires paying the same exact amount in Social Security tax as workers on the North Slope who make $106,000. This will extend solvency out into the foreseeable future.

4. The Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire on Dec. 31. Which comes closest to your position:

• Congress should extend the tax cuts only for the middle class, not for the top 2 percent, that is, households earning $250,000 or more.

• Congress should extend the tax cuts for everyone, including the top 2 percent, that is, households earning $250,000 or more.

• Congress should not extend any of the ax cuts.

• Other (explain).

Congress should extend the tax cuts for everyone but millionaires. It is important, especially in times of fiscal crisis like now, that everyone pays his or her fair share of the cost of government. The tax cuts we have provided the very, very rich are unsustainable and must be rolled back to the levels of the prosperous 1990s to put our fiscal house back in order. Extending the tax cuts for the middle is a critical step to spurring economic growth and creating new jobs.

5. Should the U.S. tax code be simplified? Is it fair? What would you describe as its single worst flaw?

The tax code is a total mess that even many tax lawyers can't fully understand. It's hard to imagine how a code filled with so many loopholes, write-offs, and gimmicks can be an efficient means for fairly collecting revenue. The tax code must be simplified so that those with ample wealth do not have unfair tax advantages compared to the average American who cannot afford expensive accountants. Such loopholes are its worst flaw.

6. Do you support congressional term limits? What limit would you propose?

I do not support congressional term limits. I have faith that the American and Alaskan people have the intelligence and wisdom to select leaders that best serve their interests over the long run. I also do not support repealing the 17th amendment out of this same belief that Alaska voters must decide who to send to the U.S. Senate.

7. Do you support the current U.S. strategy in Afghanistan? What should the future United States role in Afghanistan be?

The current strategy in Afghanistan is, at present, murky. I support allowing General Petraeus the time he needs to refocus and crystallize our mission to define success and set responsible strategic goals. I support our men and women in uniform, and I would never vote to send them into harm's way without a clear definition of our strategy and what victory would be. Our role must be to destroy al Qaeda refuges, wherever they are.

8. 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?

The VA has made important strides in improving care to our veterans, including an expedited process for soldiers to receive recognition and treatment for their post-traumatic stress. However, I am not satisfied that we are doing all we can to provide the best care possible to our veterans here in Alaska. We must expand services throughout our state and ensure veterans receive care in their own communities without having to fly to Anchorage or Seattle.

9. What is your position on the federal loan guarantees for an Alaska natural gas pipeline?

• Increase them

• Maintain them as they are

• Decrease them

• Eliminate them

Why? What specifically would you do to carry out your position if elected?

We must increase the federal loan guarantees to ensure reliable financing for the Alaska natural gas pipeline, an important piece of infrastructure for the future of our state. I would use my position to work across party lines to secure the guarantees, which our delegation has been unsuccessful in achieving up to this point. I am confident that other senators will respond favorably to the plan if they are properly educated about its merits.

10. Do you support oil and gas development on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge? If so, what specifically would do to make this happen? How would this be more effective than previous efforts?

I do support oil and gas development in ANWR. For too long, we have tried to sell the opening of ANWR the same way in Washington, D.C., to repeated failure. It is time for new approaches like mine to dedicate a portion of the federal share of ANWR royalties to a National Renewable Energy Permanent Fund to invest in the important alternative energy technologies of our future. I am confident this will be a powerful incentive to finally open ANWR.

11. Should the proposed Pebble mine in southwest Alaska be constructed? If you have any specific concerns about the project, what are they?

I do not support the construction of the Pebble mine. My concerns focus largely on the severe ecological impact the project will have upon Bristol Bay, the world's largest red salmon fishery. Thousands of Alaskans depend upon the natural bounty of the bay, and we cannot risk their livelihoods on the Pebble mine.

12. Should the federal government end affirmative action programs in the public sector? In the private sector?

America's racial and ethnic diversity is a clear asset in a global economy, and I support programs that enhance diversity in the workplace. I support policies that ensure equal access to employment for historically disadvantaged populations and will work to develop policy that embraces the spirit of meritocracy in both the public and private sectors.

13. Do you believe the U.S. Constitution should be amended in any specific ways? Do you believe any existing amendments should be repealed? Explain.

I do not propose any constitutional amendment, nor do I advocate the repeal of any current amendment.

14. What is your position on the 8(a) federal contracting policy that many Alaska Native corporations have used to grow?

• Continue it as is

• Expand it

• Shrink it

• Eliminate it

Why? What specifically would you do to carry out your position if elected?

I want to continue the 8(a) program largely as it is, though some reforms are necessary to ensure transparency and accountability, including increased documentation of shareholder benefits. It is an important program that has served to benefit Alaska Native corporations and their shareholders. These reforms will strengthen the program and protect it from erroneous attacks.

15. Do you support federal funding for the Denali Commission, which funds water, sewer, energy and other public projects in rural Alaska?

• Increase funding

• Maintain funding at the FY 2010 level of $64 million

• Decrease funding

• Eliminate funding

Why? What specifically would you do to carry out your position if elected?

I support increased funding for the Denali Commission. Continued development of our young state is a central part of my campaign platform, and the Denali Commission is an essential tool in building basic infrastructure in rural Alaska. Just as other states did, Alaska must receive adequate federal investment to construct infrastructure that will support a robust economy into the future.

16. Is deficit spending by the federal government inherently bad in all circumstances? Under what circumstances would you support deficit spending by the federal government?

We should always strive to have a balanced budget and a low national debt. In times of war or economic crisis, it may be necessary for the federal government to step in and spend significant resources to prevent catastrophe. When the crisis ends, however, it is important to put our fiscal situation in order, balance the budget, and pay down the debt.

17. Name five large federal government programs you would eliminate within 10 years if you could.

TARP -- the remaining funds should be used to pay down the national debt.

Auto industry bailouts.

Wasteful farm subsidies that are paid to individuals who do not farm at all.

Tax loopholes and incentives for multi-national corporations outsourcing American jobs.

The ban on Medicare's ability to negotiate drug prices for America's seniors.

18. Do you believe the U.S. Constitution authorizes the collection of a federal income tax?

The 16th Amendment explicitly authorizes the collection of federal income tax.

19. Are you satisfied with the level of federal environmental regulation and oversight of offshore oil and gas drilling and shipping to prevent a major spill in Alaska? If not, what do you want to see changed?

I am satisfied with the level of federal environmental regulation and oversight and would not support more stringent measures. We have the highest environmental standards in the world, as we should, and the best production capabilities. I do support increased spill prevention techniques such as acoustic triggers and we must create a strong Coast Guard presence in the Arctic for oil spill prevention and response.

20. Rural Alaska communities continue to be hit by very high rates of unemployment, suicide, abuse and neglect. Is there anything you would do to address these issues? What specifically?

Sadly, rural Alaska suffers from those problems, which are largely a result of poverty. An important way to reduce and hopefully eliminate them is to ensure that rural communities are supported by essential infrastructure so that there are ample job opportunities and a high standard of living. We must also support programs to encourage the teaching of Native culture in our schools and curriculum.

21. Should marriage be legally defined as between one man and one woman?

I do not believe it is appropriate for the government to tell individuals who they may or may not love, or who they may or may not choose to spend the rest of their lives with. I also do not believe that people should be denied rights and privileges based upon their sexual orientation.

22. Should openly gay women and men be able to serve in the U.S. military?


I support the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." I am confident in the judgments of Chairman Adm. Mullen and Secretary Gates that our military is ready to allow gay men and women to serve openly.

23. State your position on abortion.

I am pro-choice and am proud to have the endorsement of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and support of the Alaska Women's Political Caucus.

24. Do you believe abortions should be allowed in the case of rape or incest? What about when the life of the mother is at risk?

Yes, I believe abortions should be allowed in the case of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk.

25. What is your view on teaching creationism in public schools? Do you believe it should be part of the required state curriculum? How does it fit in with teaching evolution?

I do not view creationism as a theory supported by sound science, and for that reason I do not support its teaching in public schools or as a required component of state curriculum. Parents certainly have the right and obligation to teach their children about their particular religious beliefs at home, but school instruction must be limited to theories and rules based on scientifically sound information.

26. What should Congress or the federal government do, if anything, to help increase the supply of doctors in Alaska?

We absolutely need to attract more doctors, especially primary care, to Alaska. I support increased incentives such as student loan forgiveness to attract doctors to underserved areas like Alaska. We also need to educate more doctors and health care professionals through a residency program and expansion of the WWAMI program. We must increase Medicare reimbursement rates so healthcare professionals can serve Alaska's seniors.

27. Do human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases play any significant part in global warming?

I accept the consensus of the scientific community that human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases play a significant part in global warming.

28. Do you support enacting any laws or regulations to reduce human-caused greenhouse gas emissions as a way to moderate global warming? Explain.

Our country should take steps to reduce carbon emissions as long as the legislation creates a strong incentive to switch our electricity production to cleaner burning fuels, especially natural gas. It should also include specific funding for an Alaska Adaptation Fund to address the climate impacts we are already seeing here in Alaska. Finally, any national legislation must be accompanied by international action. Without serious reductions by other high-emission nations like India and China, any American emission reductions will be largely ineffective.

29. How would you describe the core health care policy problem in the U.S.? Was the problem addressed, in whole or in part, by the health care reform legislation passed by Congress this year?

The core problem is that costs of care have exploded in the past few decades at an unsustainable rate that threatens to strangle our economy. We must reduce costs while expanding access to care for all Americans. While I have serious reservations about several aspects of last year's reform, such as the 1099 filing requirement and individual mandate, we should move ahead to implement the sections that will improve Medicare, contain costs, and expand access.

30. Do you believe the health care reform legislation should be repealed? If it were to be repealed, what would you propose Congress do to improve access to affordable, quality health care for most or all Americans?

I do not support repeal. I will work tirelessly to improve the system through reduction of onerous federal mandates like the new 1099 filing requirement. I will make sure that, as problems inevitably arise, they are addressed quickly with commonsense solutions instead of the insider horse-trading that characterized the initial passage of health care reform. I also fully support the Indian Health Care reauthorization contained in the bill and unlike my opponents do not support its repeal.

31. Will you vote for federal legislation containing earmarks? Will you propose the inclusion of earmarks for Alaska in federal appropriations bills?

I would vote for federal legislation that contains earmarks and will fight for earmarks that secure important federal investment in Alaska's infrastructure. "Earmark" has become a dirty word in national politics, but we in Alaska know how important it is that we get our fair share of federal investment, just like every other state did in their youth. My opponents opposition to earmarks and record of voting against Alaska earmarks threatens Alaska's economy.

32. 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? Are there other steps you think government and industry should take to protect Alaska's polar bear population?

It is not appropriate to use the Endangered Species Act as an end-around to limit oil and gas development. In terms of habitat, science shows that even if government and industry were to stop all emissions, the sea ice would continue to melt. Currently, we must focus on sensible measures to mitigate human impact upon the bears, such as limits on hunting, but greenhouse gas limits would not be effective.

33. Do you support the federal granting of ownership shares of Bering Sea commercial fisheries to western Alaska villages -- the CDQ program -- at the expense of private companies that work those fisheries?

I support CDQ groups' core activities that benefit local economic development. CDQs were formed as non-profits to boost jobs, training, scholarships and local infrastructure development to benefit their regions. They have been largely successful and should continue for fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian regions.

34. Would you:

• Expand the program to include more villages

• Expand the program by increasing the ownership shares of the villages

• Maintain the program as is, with the villages getting a percentage of the pollock, crab ... commercial catches.

• Shrink the program

• Eliminate the program


I would maintain as it is. The CDQ program has been largely successful in providing jobs, training and economic development in western Alaska but the quota base should not be expanded at the expense of existing private sector investment in the industry. Accountability issues among some companies raise legitimate concerns that need to be addressed. I would consider expansion of the village base only after understanding what impacts would result on existing programs and services.

35. It has been difficult for Alaskans eligible for Medicare to find coverage because of a shortage of physicians willing to accept these patients under current benefit rules. Do you believe this is a problem? What specific steps would you take to improve the situation?

It is a critical problem Congress must address right away by increasing reimbursement rates for doctors, reducing the morass of administrative paperwork requirements, and creating new incentives for doctors and other healthcare professionals to participate in Medicare. Doctors and healthcare professionals should not have to spend their time writing for the file cabinet to meet bureaucratic requirements; they should be taking care of their patients. I am disappointed my opponents both support weakening Medicare.

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