OPINION: Alaska needs Kelly Merrick’s pro-business vision

As a businessperson born and raised in Alaska, I’ve worked hard to develop long-lasting relationships in Alaska’s business community. Leveraging relationships and collaborating allows you to be nimble, quicker to react to changing market conditions, and stronger as an entity. I’ve watched with concern as national politics have become more entrenched in rhetoric and less about doing the work to support economic growth, jobs and other issues having a daily impact on people’s lives.

I brag to friends in the Lower 48 that what makes Alaska strong is we are, first and foremost, Alaskans. Political parties come second. We don’t have the stagnation being experienced in our nation’s capital. And we can’t afford to let these partisan stalemates find their way into Alaska politics. Fortunately, our state’s legislators, for the most part, are effective and move the state forward. An example of this is my representative and state Senate candidate Kelly Merrick.

Kelly Merrick represents commonsense leadership. I’ve watched the Legislature the past few years and appreciate the elected officials who understand the strength of collaboration and communication and who set aside partisan bickering. Alaska is unique in its bipartisan House majority, and Rep. Kelly Merrick is part of that coalition. She co-chairs the House Finance Committee, a powerful committee in the Legislature, and used that position to invest in projects of state and national importance, while benefiting her district in Eagle River. For example, she ensured Alaska provided matching dollars to capture available federal funds in strategic investments like the Port of Alaska. From the state’s perspective, this is just common sense — use state money to collect available federal dollars to make Alaska and its residents more secure.

Every year, the Legislature debates whether and where to expend more money. Through the bipartisan leadership of folks who want to do what’s best for Alaska, the Legislature has succeeded in keeping the budget under control and funding essential services without raising taxes. Businesses need this kind of fiscal policy — and stability — as we work to attract more investment and grow Alaska. At the same time, we need adequate funding of schools and the university system, so we have a qualified and prepared workforce. These actions don’t score any points for one political side or another, just Alaska and its residents.

I understand individuals get elected by labeling themselves as either Republicans, Democrats or Independent candidates, but once they get elected and accept the responsibility to represent us, they must think of themselves as Alaskan first. Legislators need to work with each other as a collaborative group to find common ground while holding their constituents’ interests in their mind.

Kelly Merrick works with everyone to advance the needs of the state and her constituents. Let’s keep Alaska on a steady fiscal path, with predictable funding for the essential services laid out in Alaska’s constitution — without more taxes. This election season, support candidates who advocate for good policy, productive partnerships, and who understand that decisions made now affect Alaskans long into the future.

John Sims is the president of Enstar Natural Gas Co.; he lives in Eagle River. .

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