The Anchorage Daily News asked candidates for the Alaska Legislature in Southcentral Alaska to answer a series of issue questions. Read all of them here.
Stephen Trimble | Nonaffiliated | Occupation: CEO | Age: 38 | Residence: Anchorage | Relevant experience or prior offices held: CEO of Alaska’s largest solar company. Served on appointed boards and commissions through three gubernatorial administrations.| www.trimbleforalaska.com
Why are you running for office?
To bring a strong independent voice to the legislature. My experience in running my quickly growing my energy business, which was named to the INC 500 this year, will bring valuable innovation to the legislature.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed life in Alaska. In addition to ongoing public health threats, the state has seen serious, long-term impacts to its economy and jobs, education system, tourism and the ability for residents to travel. Have state leaders handled the pandemic effectively? Explain.
While our travel restrictions have been effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19, the state utterly failed in distributing aid to small businesses. Ensuring that we stabilize our economy losses is a vitally important role for government to play in our economic recovery.
What role should the state play in repairing economic damage in Alaska from the pandemic?
The state must ensure that federal funds designed for business relief be injected into the Alaska economy. They’ve failed in this regard. The state must also look to work in a collaborative way with local governments to ensure that the many varied economic damages throughout Alaska are corrected.
Describe two pressing issues facing your district. What do you plan to do about them if elected?
Economic diversity: we need to be encouraging new business investment in Alaska. That’s through maximizing existing industries through technological advantages and promoting new initiatives to take hold in Alaska. We have so much new natural wealth.
Crime and sentencing: We must also have tougher sentencing and prosecution of crimes. In order to have a prosperous society, we must be able to ensure the safety of our citizens and lower crimes rates.
How would you create a sustainable state operating budget that doesn’t borrow annually from the state’s savings to meet shortfalls?
We must optimize the government efficiently and with a strategic plan. Previous budget cuts have been blanketed and poorly thought out. We have to have a forward-looking plan to get us there that goes beyond simple election-cycle politics.
What is your vision for the Alaska Permanent Fund and the future of the dividend program?
The Permanent Fund should remain intact for our future generations as an investment both in, and for our people. The PFD needs to return to a state where citizens receive what they are promised in statute.
The state is projecting a $2.3 billion deficit for the next fiscal year if the Permanent Fund dividend is paid using the traditional formula in state law. If no dividend is paid, the deficit would be about $300 million. Do you support cutting services to pay a larger dividend? If so, what services would you cut first?
Not those that are needed for our most vulnerable portions of society. Children and seniors should not suffer from poor planning by the state. We have a duty to ensure that we are investing in our children and making sure that out seniors have excellent care.
What are your ideas to improve Alaska’s elementary and high schools?
We need to change our testing regime within the school system so that scores properly illustrate how children gain new skills and commit those learnings to memory.
What is your vision for the University of Alaska?
The University should be an economic engine for Alaska that produces jobs. We should be training our own local professionals for the workforce.
What would you do to reduce high rates of sexual assault and domestic violence in Alaska?
We must have stricter sentences on sexual and domestic assault crimes.
What are your ideas to stabilize, grow and diversify Alaska’s economy?
We need to diversify our economic energy production. We could produce all of our local energy and have a vibrant export economy.
What’s your position on the proposed Pebble mine?
Pebble is the wrong mine in the wrong place. The risks presented to our world-class fisheries are too great. Bristol Bay fisheries are one of our largest industry employment sectors. In addition, the actions by Pebble, attempting to unlawfully influence elections and government outcomes should have no place in Alaska politics.
What other important issue would you like to discuss with voters?
That we have an opportunity this year to lead with candidates that want real solutions, and not just partisan gain. Let’s put Alaska first.