The Anchorage Daily News asked candidates in statewide elections their views on a variety of issues. We're posting their responses between now and Election Day. See each candidate's full list of answers by clicking on their mug shot in the right column.
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?
I would listen to the voice of the people of these rural communities and work with them to solve their problems. I would help them, not tell them what to do from Washington, D.C.
On ballot by petition as no-party candidate, registered as (founding member) Veterans Party of Alaska
Life is very hard in rural communities especially when traditional values conflict with modern ways. I don't think that federal law can solve what is essentially a culture clash. I do not know how to solve these problems. Opening ANWR will produce much more economic prosperity that MAY also benefit villages. But prosperity will not do it alone.
Fredrick "David" Haase
Is employment necessary to a good living in the Bush; are there no entrepreneurs? The people living in rural areas need to be self-sufficient because the day will come when the Federal Governments help will not be there. The new World Order folks would be happy if they all quietly froze to death. The point being people in rural Alaska should not be beholden to people in Washington D.C. and beyond look to your neighbors.
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.
As a former magistrate in Tok serving a number of rural communities, I saw many people facing these struggles. Jobs and strengthening families are the answers. Jobs can be created by increased access to natural resources. Regional corporations, some with multibillion dollar operations, must also be held to account for failing to create significant employment for shareholders in the Bush. Increased oversight and accountability to shareholders can help bring real job opportunities as well.
Secure greater resources for law enforcement and the criminal justice system, to provide justice for domestic and sexual violence victims, and ensure local alcohol laws are enforced. We must support community wellness activities that revitalize Native cultures and support education and training programs that prepare individuals for the workforce. I spearheaded the Native Millennium Challenge bill that allows tribal organizations to use economic development funds in a coordinated manner to address the long-term economic needs of rural villages.
We have to bring back hope and optimism for the future. This can be accomplished by taking comprehensive steps such as building the community through dialogue, education, training, and encouraging community self-reliance. Alcohol is a scourge and exacerbates every other problem.
Job creation, access to health care and creating the infrastructure to help rural communities heal from the ravages of these issues are all very important. I voted for the Tribal Law and Order Act which will mandate funds for more VPSO training programs. I have also been working on ways to improve access to high-speed Internet connections to aid in job creation and the ability to apply for grants online.
By working with and empowering local communities to take steps necessary to combat these ills, we can lower these statistics. There are a number of efforts to improve the quality of life in rural Alaska including protecting subsistence, developing rural renewable energy opportunities to create jobs and drive down the high costs of energy, and connecting rural Alaska to the world through enhanced communications infrastructure which will help build better education, health care and economic development opportunities.
These tragic circumstances demand individual and community attention, and an 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.
William "Billy" S. Toien
Economic empowerment and self sufficiency is the key. Each community has different challenges. We need to find out what is obstructing commerce and industry in each community that is having difficulty then go on to the next step. Everyone has a gift to give. When people have productive work, there is a lot less of the above-mentioned problems.
Anchorage Daily News