I think my top priority is growing the economy and taking care of Alaska families.
When it comes to growing the economy, we just aren't doing enough. Somebody stood up and endorsed me the other day and said, "Mead we've had a one-trick pony on a gasline as governor, you can multitask."
And my point here is that every region of our state has got something they're trying to do for economic growth. It could be a mine and a port in northwestern Alaska and being part of this new billion-dollar Arctic shipping services industry that's going to come along. If we don't do anything about it, Russia gets the whole monopoly. It could be what Southeast Alaska has been trying to do, which is to mimic what British Columbia has done, and getting into the shellfish market. We could be exporting far more scallops, oysters, that sort of thing. We've got the tidelands to do it. But the state really hasn't gotten behind it the way it should.
We have a huge amount of natural gas on the North Slope, and we've been a one-trick pony on one gas pipeline, which is the least competitive in the marketplace. We've got some, you know, very good interest from the marketplace but we've got to make that more competitive. I was in your newspaper suggesting that we look at going off the North Slope. Doesn't mean that we would abandon the pipeline concept but there may be ways, with value added up on the North Slope and so forth, to start monetizing that gas. We've been waiting 34 years to do that and there's, every single molecule of gas that's been found up there was found by accident. People — we've got to figure out how to get money from that.
So there's a number of economic projects where I'm not talking about putting state money into this. What I'm talking about is inviting investors, and helping them know that Alaska is a good place to do business.
When it comes to families, let me just say this: I grew up in a family where dad was an alcoholic. He was a wonderful guy when he was sober. He was not a wonderful guy to my mom, especially when he was not sober. I thank God today we have intervention. We didn't have that when I was a kid. I think we need to understand that our health and social services area needs to work very closely with our public safety arena, with education, to make sure that people are not — that the state is not the largest place with victims of sexual assault.
Well, there's a lot of one, one, ones as opposed to No. 1, No. 2, No. 3.
But public safety, I think, has got to be job No. 1 for this next administration, my administration. Our statistics are terrible. It's affecting a lot of Alaskans. It's impacting many businesses. I don't think there's an Alaskan that's either not been impacted by crime or knows somebody that's not been impacted by crime. So we're going to have to increase our trooper numbers. Prosecuting attorneys, we have to have the right number of prosecuting attorneys. We have to have the courts opened on Fridays. We have to have a comprehensive approach to dealing with this issue, including dealing with the opioid issues, the heroin issue and making sure that we're working closely with the federal government to prosecute and interdict drugs coming into the state.
We also have to work on our educational outcomes. We have some of the worst educational outcomes as a system in the country. We have to make a decision if we're going to have outcomes such as reading by third grade, students fluent in algebra by ninth grade and if we're going to beef up our career-tech opportunities for students. We're going to have to seriously take a look at these issues because right now we're in tough shape with regard to these issue and these outcomes.
So, public safety, education, taking care of our fiscal issues — these are going to be the issues the next governor's got to grapple with.
More questions with gubernatorial candidates Dunleavy and Treadwell: