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.
What in your background qualifies you to represent Alaskans in Congress?
Jay R. Armstrong (R)
I live and work here in Alaska and have experienced Washington, D.C. tyranny and oppression for decades. Washington, D.C. and their unconstitutional laws are our biggest problem. Congress and Washington, D.C. could care less about separation of powers, due process requirements or jurisdiction. As Alaska’s Congressman, I will work hard to transfer our lands, waters and resources back to Alaskans by opening up mining claim patenting, homesteading, and land transfers and more.
Nick Begich (R)
As a lifelong Republican, I have held a variety of professional and political roles with the intent of growing opportunity through entrepreneurship. I served as a co-chair for Rep. Don Young’s 2020 campaign and the Alaska Republican Party Finance Committee. Professionally, I have extensive experience in both corporate and startup settings and have been involved in managing businesses both in Alaska and around the world. As such, I’m uniquely qualified to make the business case for Alaska in Washington, D.C.
Gregg B. Brelsford (undeclared)
After driving to Alaska in 1972, I earned degrees from University of Alaska Anchorage and Harvard Law School. I worked in tribal organizations, including as the Aleut’s tribal governing body chief executive and on the Alaska Federation of Natives board, and international business. Recently, I served as manager of the Bristol Bay Borough and Dillingham. I have worked to get things done for Alaskans in diverse parts of the state, in local government, tribal, business, legal, and rural areas. No other candidate brings this exceptional mix of experience.
Robert Brown (nonpartisan)
Military service/combat veteran status. I have a limited background in community organizing with the Socialist Rifle Association and a membership in the Free Software Foundation, but I think my lack of political experience makes me uniquely qualified to represent the portion of our community that has rejected electoral politics as useless.
Chris Bye (Libertarian)
I am a typical Alaskan, with Alaskans’ best interest at heart. No party elites to answer to.
Arlene Carle (nonpartisan)
The Constitution requires members of the House of Representatives to be at least 25 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and a resident of the State they represent. I meet those qualifications.
Santa Claus (undeclared)
I am a two-term City of North Pole councilman and current mayor pro tem, and former: member of the Alaska Public Broadcasting Commission, special assistant to the deputy police commissioner of New York City, member of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Defense Executive Reserve, while director of the Terrorism Research and Communication Center. Graduate degree from New York University in educational communication and technology. Completed a successful 50-state tour, advocating for child, health, safety, and welfare.
John B. Coghill Jr. (R)
Lifelong Alaskan working in small businesses. Defending our country in the military. Working with students as a teacher. Serving people as a leader in a local church. Many years in the political arena through party advocacy. Twenty-two years in the state Legislature as a House member and a senator. Presently serving our community as an emergency shelter director. Staying involved in policy issues that are important to Alaska.
Christopher S. Constant (D)
I started my public service in the Fairview Community Council serving nine years before election to the Anchorage Assembly. I built deep connections with my community to learn what issues neighbors face and how I can fight to improve their lives. On the Assembly, I created jobs, recognized the sovereign tribes of Alaska and helped drive the redesign of the Port of Alaska and the sale of Municipal Light and Power, reducing costs. I will take that same fight to Congress, to better our state and open new opportunities.
Otto H. Florschutz III (R)
We have a citizen form of government, of the people by the people. What qualifies me is 42 years of residency. Why people would vote for me is another matter. As a 42-year commercial fisherman I have worn many hats. Besides catching fish, I have served in community elected positions, done boat repair, mechanics, welding, carpentry, business and much more. For a 16-year period I also worked for Alaska Airlines. I am known for my ability to work and build consensus with others.
Laurel A. Foster (nonpartisan)
I’m an everyday, ordinary Alaskan taking this step to ensue change within our political environment. Our democracy is designed to give power to the people to ensue that change, which shouldn’t be determined by political affiliation or economic status. I’m confident my experience as a leader, advocate, and everyday Alaskan will bring a much-needed perspective that our government and leadership is lacking.
Thomas “Tom” R. Gibbons (R)
I’m a longtime resident of Alaska. I have managed several small businesses. In my many years’ relations with the people of Alaska, I believe that I know what is most important to the people of Alaska.
Karyn Griffin (undeclared)
Local organizer, activist, small-time fundraiser, mom, homeschool parent, lived in several on-road regions. Lives on/off grid.
Al Gross (nonpartisan)
Born and raised in Southeast Alaska, I am Alaskan through-and-through. My mother, Shari, was the first executive director of the United Fishermen of Alaska and founded the Alaska League of Women Voters. My father, Avrum, was the attorney general of Alaska and worked alongside Gov. Jay Hammond to create Alaska’s Permanent Fund and the dividend. I raised my family and practiced medicine in Juneau for almost 20 years. I know firsthand what makes Alaska special: our people and our land.
Andrew J. Halcro (nonpartisan)
My background includes being a former state legislator, statewide business leader, nonprofit executive and a community development leader.
Ted S. Heintz (Libertarian)
I’m a life long Alaskan, a veteran, still serving in the (National) Guard, with law enforcement training and am deeply passionate about public service as well as protecting civil rights and reining in government abuse and excess. I have experience as a teacher and instructor from which I have learned much. Having traveled the world extensively and lived in and attended university in Europe, I have a well-rounded view and some unique and fresh ideas and perspectives I can bring to bear on our difficulties.
John Wayne Howe (Alaska Independence Party)
Forty-plus years of hard industrial work in Alaska. Forty-plus years of paying immoral taxes. Forty-plus years of not being allowed the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
Don Knight (nonpartisan)
I’m over 25, and a citizen, and most importantly I know how to represent the people! I’m also a nonpartisan who does not hate any political party, but feel if party names were not on the ballot many would have no idea of who to vote for!
Jeff Lowenfels (nonpartisan)
While I’m best known as a gardener I’m so much more. My work as a natural resource attorney with an extensive background in permitting and lobbying affords great talent in overcoming federal bureaucratic hurdles. I’ve also helped build numerous Alaska businesses and mentored local entrepreneurs.
Mike E. Melander (R)
I was raised on a family farm in Kansas. Graduated high school in 1976, attended one year of junior college and 1 year at Kansas State University. Owned and operated M & M Contracting Co., Inc., removing obsolete communication and signal pole lines for railroads, pipelines and telecommunication companies nationwide. In late 1990s, I focused on Southwinds Buffalo Ranch Inc., and owned and operated Shooter’s Liquor, all in Kansas. I moved to Alaska in 2012, and have been employed by Sourdough Express, First Student, Alpenglow Shuttle, Water Wagon and Carquest.
Sherry M. Mettler (undeclared)
Have been a successful business-woman for many years. Proven record of putting the needs of those served first and foremost in solving problems and getting issues successfully accomplished.
Mike Milligan (D)
I’ve been elected to the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly three times and I was a charter member of the Cook Inlet Regional Advisory Council, authorized by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
J.R. Myers (Libertarian)
I am an Alaskan. I have been in service to Alaska for many years. I meet the Constitutional requirements. I strongly believe in our Republican form of government. I am a student of history. I understand how the system was designed to work. I know it isn’t working well now. I understand that Congress must exercise its rightful authority as the house of the people. I’ve been to the Washington, D.C. swamp, and I know what to expect. I know you need to put on good boots in snake country, and get ready to stomp!
Robert Ornelas (American Independent Party)
I’m the former state chairman of the American Independent Party of California.
Sarah Palin (R)
Having lived here all my life, I have a strong connection with Alaska. My extensive history of serving and representing Alaskans will be put to good use in Congress. Three decades ago I was elected to serve two terms on Wasilla’s City Council, then two terms as the city’s manager after being elected mayor. In 2003, I was appointed chair and ethics supervisor of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. In 2006, I was elected as the ninth governor of Alaska, the first female and youngest governor in state history.
Silvio E. Pellegrini (undeclared)
Idealism. Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution says House members must be at least 25 years old; a United States citizen for at least seven years prior; and a resident of the state chosen to represent. I am qualified, as our founders intended. Since the age of 16, entering in delayed enlistment, I have served our great nation as my purpose for the last 20 years of military service. Once again, I feel this calling to perform my civic duty and serve when our nation needs it the most.
Mary S. Peltola (D)
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.
Joshua C. Revak (R)
I served our country and was wounded in combat. That taught me how to fight. I worked for Congressman Don Young and U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan for many years and continued to serve the state in the state Senate, and that has taught me how to serve. I know how to fight for and serve our great state and I will fight for Alaska with every fiber of my being.
Tara M. Sweeney (R)
Growing up in rural Alaska, coupled with my professional experiences, make me uniquely qualified to serve Alaskans. I represent the fabric of Alaska. I’m a small business owner and former executive of Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. In 2018, President Donald Trump nominated me to serve as the 13th assistant secretary of Indian affairs at U.S. Interior Department. My career has been focused on advocating for Alaskans at home and fighting for Alaska in Washington.
David Thistle (undeclared)
My veteran status, education, occupational experiences and life experiences.
Jo Woodward (R)
Fighting battles for what is correct. Experience, academics, reading, the fact I consider every legal Alaskan a family member, not merely a neighbor. I care deeply about Alaskans, Alaska wildlife, environment and current federal-level matters referencing the state of Alaska.
Adam L. Wool (D)
I’ve been elected to the state Legislature for four terms.
Stephen Wright (R)
Having run for Congress before, inspired by President Trump, a candidate at the time. I have lived in and traveled the state speaking with many Alaskans. I am a veteran and have worked in many fields from avionics, stealth technology, training, maintenance instruction, and management of resources. I understand the strategic area of Alaska and our impact on the globe. We need strong air, sea and land forces in this the Arctic region. I look forward to qualifying myself by fighting for four things!!
Multiple candidates did not respond to the survey. They include:
• Dennis “Denny” W. Aguayo (nonpartisan)
• Brian T. Beal (undeclared)
• Tim Beck (undeclared)
• John T. Callahan (R)
• Lady Donna Dutchess (nonpartisan)
• William “Bill” D. Hibler III (nonpartisan)
• David Hughes (undeclared)
• Robert “Bob” Lyons (R)
• Anne M. McCabe (nonpartisan)
• Emil Notti (D)
• Maxwell Sumner (R)
• Ernest F. Thomas (D)
• Richard “Clayton” Trotter (R)
• Bradley D. Welter (R)
• Jason G. Williams (undeclared)