The Anchorage Daily News asked candidates for U.S. House running in the special primary election to answer a series of questions. Read all of their responses here.
MARY S. PELTOLA*, Democrat from Bethel
What in your background qualifies you to represent Alaskans in Congress?
I’m a lifelong Alaskan with broad experience serving the diverse needs of our state. As a state lawmaker, I led bipartisan coalitions to pass legislation that improved schools, fisheries, and public health in rural communities. As the director of a nonprofit organization, I helped establish a partnership between Native and rural Alaskans and the federal government to protect Alaska salmon. As a Native woman, I understand that Alaskans are a diverse people who need leaders who can unite us.
Why are you running for U.S. Congress in Alaska?
Alaskans need a federal government that supports us by helping stabilize our economy. Our Congressperson will shoulder the heavy responsibilities of bringing federal money back home and championing the diverse interests of rural and urban Alaskans. I’m driven to build on the good things that Representative Young did for our state and to provide the leadership and advocacy that the challenges of the 21st century require.
What would be your top priority if elected to Congress?
My top priority is to serve all Alaskans by helping to improve our quality of life. That means championing policies that support the entrepreneurial spirit and creating an economy that meets the needs of living and future generations.
What is your position on abortion?
If legislation came before the U.S. House that would guarantee the same abortion rights nationwide as the Roe v. Wade decision, how would you vote?
If you support abortion rights, what limitations, if any, do you think should be placed on those rights, such as waiting periods or a specific point in a pregnancy where abortion should no longer be legal?
I support codifying Roe V. Wade.
Would you support a bill, if it came before the House, to expand the size of the U.S. Supreme Court? Why or why not?
What do you think should be done by the federal government to address mass shootings?
My heart is heavy over the news out of Uvalde. As a mother, I can’t fathom the pain of losing a child. Our country will keep experiencing this heartbreak and families will have to keep burying their loved ones if all we can offer are our thoughts and prayers. We cannot continue with the status quo. We need to make it harder for people exhibiting dangerous behavior and who self-report their desire to hurt others to access firearms. We have to provide access to well-funded mental health resources. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community, and especially in our elementary schools.
Do you support gun control legislation? If so, what kind of measures would you support? If not, why not?
Guns are a part of Alaska’s culture and a core tool of a subsistence lifestyle. I grew up hunting, my husband is a big game hunting advocate and I will continue to own guns and support the right of Alaskans to own guns. But it’s past time our nation’s leaders put forth more than just words to address the grief we all share. We can take common sense action, and we must. Provisions like secure storage laws, reasonable waiting periods and universal background checks can make all of us safer while still preserving the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
*Note: Peltola is one of several candidates who are also running in Alaska’s regular U.S. House primary election in August.