Governor candidate Q/A: Gov. Sean Parnell (R)

Candidate's name: Sean Parnell

Party: Republican

Date of birth: Nov. 19, 1962

Occupation: Governor of Alaska

Current employer (with starting date):

State of Alaska, beginning in December 2006

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

Private sector attorney, 1987-2000, 2005-2006

State Legislature 1992-2000

Phillips Petroleum/Conoco Phillips, 2000-2003

Alaska Division of Oil & Gas, 2003-2005

Lieutenant governor, 2006-2009

Governor, 2009-present

Previous public offices held (include dates):

State House of Representatives, 1992-1996

State Senate, 1996-2000

Lieutenant Governor, 2006-2009

Governor, 2009-present

Previous unsuccessful runs for office (include dates):

U.S. House of Representatives, 2008

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

Pacific Lutheran University, bachelor's in business administration, 1980-1984

Seattle University School of Law, J.D., 1984-1987

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

(Candidate did not answer)

Spouse's name: Sandy Parnell

Children: Grace and Rachel

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

Alaska, California

Web site:



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

I'm running for governor to create a future of economic growth and opportunities for our families.

To create jobs, we need to fill up the pipeline, fight federal overreach, lower taxes, support small businesses, and get Alaska's natural gas to market. And, we need superior education and job training programs that will prepare Alaskans for Alaska's jobs.

To protect families, our top priority is putting an end to Alaska's epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault through tougher enforcement, plus shelter and support for victims, community engagement, and choosing respect.

2. If elected, what are the three most important things you want to accomplish?

Alaska needs to fill up the oil pipeline, get Alaska's gas to market, and improve the quality of life for our families. To fill up the pipeline, I'll make our tax regime more competitive, build roads to resources, and fight federal overreach that has choked off development. To get our gas to market, I'll continue the work that's brought Alaska into historic gasline territory. To protect our families, I'll continue working to end Alaska's epidemic of sexual assault and domestic violence.

3. If you could have one -- and only one -- big success your first/next year in office, what would it be?

More jobs and opportunities for hardworking Alaskans. More resource development and less federal government interference with our economy and lives.

4. What will you do as governor to ensure a natural gas pipeline that gets gas to Alaskans?

Make sure every option is pursued to get Alaska's gas to market, rather than cut off private sector options like my opponent proposes. This is the first time in Alaska's history that companies have actually bid gas into a pipeline, we need to aggressively pursue that. At the same time, an All-Alaska line option is present and will be pursued as will a separate in-state line effort. Until Alaskans get our gas, we should not be limiting options.

5. Describe three ways in which your administration would try to grow and diversify Alaska's economy. (Up to 100 words)

Growing Alaska's economy means resource development, lower taxes, and creating opportunities for business through lower energy costs.

Resource development in Alaska requires a more competitive tax regime, fighting for access to lands and resources, and building roads to resources.

Second, I've cut taxes and proposed tax credits for jobs in Alaska.

Last, we need to create opportunities for businesses and consumers by streamlining regulatory processes and dropping energy costs through investment in hydro and other renewable energy.

6. Alaska's prison population has almost doubled in 20 years and may keep growing exponentially because of a get-tough-on-crime mentality in the Legislature. What do you offer Alaskans to change that trajectory on crime and punishment -- or do you think this is the right course?

We will end our state's epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault within the decade by taking a comprehensive approach. Through more enforcement, prevention, and more resources for crime survivors. We'll increase the number of VPSOs so that every Alaskan can call for help. And, we're raising awareness through our Choose Respect campaign.

7. What would be your first/next five steps, in order, to create and implement a solid, long-range fiscal plan for Alaska?

First, we'll fill Alaska's pipeline by fighting to develop our oil resources. Second, we'll bring Alaska's natural gas to in-state markets and beyond. Third, we'll work to keep taxes low for every sector of our economy. Fourth, we'll invest in infrastructure and deferred maintenance that will help Alaska bring more resources to market at a lower cost. Fifth, we'll rein in spending and save more for the future.

8. What are Alaska's three biggest education challenges? What is your plan to address each of them?

Too many of Alaska's students don't graduate, and too many who do aren't ready for college or job training. Of the students who do graduate, not enough stay here to build a life. That's why I introduced and championed the Governor's Performance Scholarship, which rewards hardworking students with scholarships for college or job training. By taking more math and science, Alaska's students will be ready for Alaska's jobs the day they graduate.

9. Do you support state vouchers for private schools?

I support parents having greater choice in their children's education, whether public or private. And, therefore, support any lawful means to give parents more choice and children more options.

10. Taxation on oil and gas production in Alaska is:

• Generally higher than it should be

• About right

• Generally lower than it should be

• Other


Generally higher than it should be. We need to cut taxes to make Alaska more competitive and create more jobs. I've proposed capping progressivity at higher oil prices and tax credits for technically challenged fields. My opponent, on the other hand, proposes a risky royalty scheme where the state would renegotiate every royalty in every lease. My opponent's approach would kill Alaska jobs.

11. Taxation on other industries in Alaska is:

• Generally higher than it should be

• About right

• Generally lower than it should be

• Other


Generally higher than it should be.

I believe we still tax too much. I championed reducing the cruise passenger head tax this past year to bring more tourist dollars to Alaska businesses; supported oil and gas tax credits to create Alaska jobs; supported tax credits for value-added seafood processing equipment; supported royalty reductions for geothermal and benefitted other renewable energy measures. Low taxes are essential for job creation across industries.

12. Taxation on individual citizens in Alaska is:

• Generally higher than it should be

• About right

• Generally lower than it should be

• Other


Generally higher than it should be.

While Alaska's economy is one of America's strongest, Alaskans still struggle under local government's high property taxes and sales taxes. On the state side, I support suspending the gasoline tax so Alaskans get relief at the pump, and support reductions in small business taxes. We need to keep more money in Alaskans' pockets.

13. What are the five most important steps for the governor to take to reduce domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska?

Our goal: To end the epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault in 10 years. How? More law enforcement, increase shelter and resources for victims, and work to prevent these crimes from happening (Choose Respect campaign). We will also add resources and pursue those who prey upon Alaska children through the internet and abuse/defraud seniors.

14. What are your plans for improving the quality of education offered through the University of Alaska system?

We will implement the Alaska Performance Scholarship for 2011 high school graduates, which will reduce the remedial course work the university provides and allow more focus on degree programs. Additionally, I support the university's research function and led to get approval for the UAF Life Sciences building.

15. Are you confident that the current level of state environmental regulation and oversight of offshore oil and gas drilling and shipping is adequate to prevent a major spill in Alaska? If not, where are we deficient and what will you propose to achieve adequate protection?

Yes, Alaska leads the world in spill prevention and response. Still we have to remain vigilant, constantly training, constantly upgrading equipment, and learning from disasters elsewhere.

16. Is the number of Alaska State Troopers and Village Public Safety Officers:

• More than necessary

• About right

• Less than necessary

If you answered more or less, what specific steps would you take to achieve the right level?

Less than necessary.

We increased the number of Village Public Safety Officers and troopers/investigators last year and will do it again this year. Where many villages across our state have no law enforcement presence, assaults and lawlessness will remain high. We will change that.

17. Highway safety, especially on the Seward Highway, is a public concern in Southcentral Alaska. What will you do as governor to improve safety on the Seward Highway?

We've improved Seward Highway safety with coordination with greater State Trooper enforcement and due to the Dept. of Transportation's "traffic calming" efforts. We will continue these efforts and ask Alaskans to continue working together to drive safely.

18. Rural Alaska communities continue to experience very high rates of unemployment, suicide, abuse and neglect. What would you specifically do to address these issues?

These tragic circumstances demand individual and community attention, and a appropriate state response. Unemployment can be addressed by increased resource development, job-training, jobs, and educational opportunity. The state can do better at preventing sexual exploitation of all minors across this state, including rural Alaska, and this will drop the suicide, abuse and neglect numbers. We will continue to address alcohol and substance abuse. And we will let Alaskans know there is no shame or guilt in asking for help.

19. What is your position on the proposed Pebble mine in southwest Alaska?

I believe that a well-managed, scientific permitting process with public input should determine whether a project moves forward. Politicians shouldn't be picking which projects get developed and which don't -- that leads to a corrupt "buddy-buddy" system where friends are rewarded rather than science and the public dictating outcomes.

20. Are you satisfied with the way fish and wildlife is being managed by the state? Explain.

We can do better. We've been able to manage Alaska's fish and game for abundance, and by using a scientific approach to game management, we are keeping freezers full of food this winter. Recently, the federal government stepped in and put a halt to one of our predator control efforts. That kind of intervention is unacceptable, and I will continue to stand up for Alaska every time the federal government overreaches.

21. Is the current level of predator control authorized by the Department of Fish and Game:

• Less than it should be

• About right

• More than it should be


About right.

Our state's predator control program is sufficient. Without managing for an abundance of wildlife, population crashes will inevitably lead to hardship for subsistence and sport hunters alike. I support every effort to protect Alaska's gun rights and our freedom to hunt and fish.

22. What additional steps can the state take to promote construction of a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope?

My first option is a "Y-Line" to North America and to tidewater in Alaska. Two successful open seasons have attracted major shippers to bid two separate pipeline projects. One of those projects provides planning for two routes: an "All-Alaska" route for LNG export to Asian markets and a route for gas overland to North American markets. The companies' role in the next six months is to negotiate precedent agreements between shippers and the pipeline companies. The state's role now is to work to resolve Pt. Thomson litigation in the state's interest so that gas can be part of any project.

23. Should Alaska provide state-financed preschool for all young children? If so, should children be required to attend preschool, whether state-funded or private?

The answer to early learning is not to create a state funded, one size fits all approach as my opponent suggests. Instead, we must empower parents and teachers in the early years to focus on literacy through private non-profits and mentor programs like Best Beginnings.

24. 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 believe Alaska's students should have the opportunity to learn a variety of theories related to the nature of life and how it came to exist. I would expect more academic freedom so our young people get all the information and can make their own fully informed choices. Finally, I think local school districts should already be doing this.

25. What is your position on inclusion of sex education in Alaska schools? Would you want to limit the teaching to abstinence-only approach or do you support a broader curriculum? Should sex education be encouraged? Required? Banned?

Education about sexual relationships is the responsibility of parents dedicated to raising healthy Alaskan families. Any public school sex-ed program should include abstinence as a part of a curriculum dedicated to improving the health of Alaskans.

26. State your position on abortion. When should it be allowed, and when should government pay for it? Do you anticipate pushing any legislation, policies or budget proposals that would change the status quo in Alaska?

I am pro-life -- dedicated to life and family. I stood up for life by vetoing an increase in Denali KidCare funding, which paid for over six hundred abortions last year. I supported the "Yes on 2" ballot initiative and will remain focused on finding ways to support families.

27. Do you support the decriminalization of marijuana?


Alcohol and substance abuse are often involved with domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska, and every effort must be made to stop our epidemic. Decriminalizing marijuana in Alaska would do nothing to help in our effort to keep Alaska's families health, safe, and productive.

28. Describe the role you believe tribal governments should have in Alaska, and what the state's position in recognizing them/working with them should be.

Tribes can play an important role in partnership with the state for such things as alcohol and substance abuse services and for services for crime victims. However, the state opposes tribal courts assuming criminal jurisdiction where constitutional rights.

29. What is your position on capital punishment?

Support, for heinous crimes.

30. The biggest challenge facing Alaska's economic future is _______. How specifically would you address this?

Declining throughput in the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline is our single greatest economic challenge. To bring more of Alaska's oil resource development projects into production, I'll continue to fight for Alaska's resources, from Outer Continental Shelf drilling to ANWR to the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. To spur production on state land, I'll continue my fight for lower taxes that create jobs in Alaska.