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.
Dan Mayfield | Non-affiliated | Occupation: Retired | Age: 65 | Residence: Big Lake | Relevant experience or prior offices held: Two term Mat-Su Borough Assembly member and current Deputy Mayor. I represent the communities of Settlers Bay, Knik, Big Lake, Point Mackenzie and Hollywood. I’m also the current president of Big Lake Trails, Inc. and I’ve held positions as Community Council Vice President, President of the Big Lake Chamber of Commerce and State SnowTRAC Chair. | danmayfieldalaska.com
Why are you running for office?
I’m running because Alaska needs a new fiscal plan that sustains us through the ups and downs of unpredictable oil revenues and keeps our communities vibrant. We can not cut our way to prosperity, certainly not with an anticipated $2.3 Billion deficit. Alaska needs diversified revenue streams and responsible fiscal management so we can still fund education, public safety, and infrastructure maintenance in both good and bad times. At the same time, we need to protect the full PFD and put it in the Constitution so that we can pass that legacy down to our kids.
I believe Alaskans are tired of their legislators going to Juneau and trading power for their vote. We need a voice that is going to represent OUR interests, NOT special interests—and it’s for these reasons I oppose a binding caucus.
Alaskans deserve a brighter future. As a two term Assembly Member, I have a proven track record of success. I’ll bring that experience to Juneau.
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.
This is not the time to “Finger Point” on whether or not state leaders have handled the pandemic effectively. What is important, is that our state leaders base decisions on how to “Flatten the Curve” and wipe out this wicked virus based on science, and not political calculations. We need to look at and examine what has worked in other cities across our great country. We have to follow the science, be safe and make sure our vulnerable populations are kept safe. Our state and local leaders across Alaska are making the best decisions they can with the information that they have.
What role should the state play in repairing economic damage in Alaska from the pandemic?
Our focus must be on locally owned and small business owners. It was they who truly suffered the most economic loss and had to close their doors during the pandemic. This caused a spike in unemployment and loss of benefits for many. I believe the State has been on the right course with grants, unemployment benefits and passing CARES ACT money down to local governments. As an Assembly Member, we recognized the need to give a hand up to our small businesses. That’s why we appropriated $13 million in CARES ACT funding in the first round of our deliberations on addressing the needs of our citizens due to COVID-19.
Describe two pressing issues facing your district. What do you plan to do about them if elected?
Knik Goose Bay Road is one of the most unsafe roads in the State. Reconstruction of this road has been in planning for many years but simply has not gotten traction to the point of getting the work done. As a Senator, this project will be the number one project on my radar. Lives are being lost. The funding is there. I will have the fortitude and tenacity to follow up with ADOT to get boots on the ground working to complete KGB Road.
Due to population growth in the Mat-Su, the amount of traffic has become an issue that must be addressed. In 2018, the voters of the Mat-Su passed a Road Bond package to build or improve many of our streets. The Bond called for a 50% match from the Borough. As part of putting people back to work, I plan to seek match money in stages so that we keep it affordable and meet the needs of the Mat-Su.
How would you create a sustainable state operating budget that doesn’t borrow annually from the state’s savings to meet shortfalls?
We need to first begin to get the best value for our God given resources in Alaska before we do anything else. We have an obligation in our Constitution to do just that. I personally support Ballot Measure 1 as it is the only possible new revenue source that could have an impact in the next Legislative session by bringing into the General Fund, up to $1 Billion. While it is not the entire answer to our budget crisis, it would help to pay the bills and protect the PFD.
What is your vision for the Alaska Permanent Fund and the future of the dividend program?
Currently, Alaskans are not getting the full value of our natural resources as guaranteed by the our state constitution. I will protect the Alaska Permanent Fund and the dividend in the Alaska constitution. Period.
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?
I do not believe Alaska can cut $1 Billion, much less $2.3 Billion from the State budget and still meet its constitutional mandates. Cuts are already ripping apart the fabric of our State. The question accurately captures the choices that have faced Governors and Legislators for the last several years. Yet, no leadership has come forward with solutions, just political football. Alaska need to take advantage of all of our natural resources and we need to have a robust discussion on how we can fund our constitutional mandates and promises while protecting the PFD for the future. This discussion will need to happen this legislative session.
What are your ideas to improve Alaska’s elementary and high schools?
We need more money going into classrooms instead of administration. We also need school budgets that reflect the importance of the mission being expected. Inflation proofing the Base Student Allocation would be a good start.
We need to attract teachers who will stay in Alaska over the long term of their teaching careers. To do that, we need to start by looking at their retirement packages. Alaska simply can’t afford to keep losing good teachers, having to always train new ones because of poor retention rates. Alaska has the nation’s worst public employee retirement package in the United States.
What is your vision for the University of Alaska?
Our university system is one of the biggest economic drivers in the state. We have to reinforce our efforts to support the University and invest in higher education. The workforce it develops for our state is an economic asset and we must treat it as such.
What would you do to reduce high rates of sexual assault and domestic violence in Alaska?
Alaska has the highest rates of sexual assault and domestic violence in the nation. There simply is no excuse for that. I was a supporter of Bree’s Law from the very beginning. You can count on me to keep fighting on this important issue. We need more education initiatives like Bree’s Law--and the evidence supports that Bree’s Law is working. Additionally, we need to consider tougher sentences for sexual and domestic violence.
What are your ideas to stabilize, grow and diversify Alaska’s economy?
We need to look at the high cost of healthcare procedures here in Alaska--it is the highest in the nation. The actual costs of medical procedures and insurance rates are preventing prospective employers from seriously considering locating here. We need to address those costs before outside business industries are going to expand in Alaska.
Locally, alternative energy, the Tech industry and I believe the Hemp industry will help to diversify our economy in the future. Tourism always has the potential to expand by marketing the beauty of Alaska and needs to be supported at the State level.
What’s your position on the proposed Pebble mine?
Some things are best left alone. I do not support Pebble. The Bristol Bay Fishery is too important to Alaska both economically and culturally. The locals in Bristol Bay don’t want it, fishermen don’t want it and I don’t believe that most Alaskans want it.
What other important issue would you like to discuss with voters?
It is time for Alaskans to come together in search of a solution to our budget problems. I believe we must build Alaska to put people back to work and improve our economy. By investing in Alaska, we build a better future for ourselves and the next generation. I hope you will join me in rejecting the failed policies of the past and help me meet the obligation of meeting our responsibilities as a State and insuring that our citizens have the purchase power of the PFD in their own hands.