As a lifelong Alaskan, I am more excited about Ballot Measure 2 than any other political event in my life. Ballot Measure 2 is a three-armed reform of our elections process to bring us back to the values that Alaska had in place for more than a half-century. Mandating financial disclosures for organizations donating more than $2,000 to a campaign; open primaries where the top four candidates move to the general election; and ranked-choice voting to ensure candidates win with a majority of the vote.
Alaska has a rich history of doing things our way. In 1947, we adopted a blanket open primary to be sure that our leaders are accountable to the people, not political parties. The open primary process was popular and it worked. It brought us the Permanent Fund dividend, it brought us a string of independent-minded governors, and most importantly, it allowed us to have a functioning legislative body. Until the Democratic Party of California had their way in the Supreme Court, the popular open primary system worked great. Party insiders wanted more power, and they took it from the people. More than 60% of Alaskans are unaffiliated with a political party. Yet candidates and platforms are decided behind closed doors with five or six people. Party primaries limit Alaskans’ choices. Three-fourths of general elections are uncompetitive, and nonpartisan voters are shut out from the process.
We are on the verge of the largest fiscal crisis that we as a state have ever faced. And I’m trying to think back when the last time I can remember our legislators actually getting something done. Wasted time and money figuring out who is in the majority, who gets the most power, and who will follow the party platform the best. I’m ready to vote for people who want to responsibly balance our budget by working together and compromising. When keeping the party happy is more important than the values and opinions of constituents, there is a problem.
As the former President of the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, I believe that Ballot Measure 2 is good for business. Candidates will be focused on policy development, public outreach and positive campaigning, instead of pleasing a group of party insiders behind closed doors. Having the ability to come out publicly in favor of compromise won’t lead to backlash from “the party.” We need the ability to work together to get out of our financial situation. Otherwise, the outlook for Alaska’s economy is grim.
Past President of the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, Bear Paw Festival Chair
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