CANDIDATE Q&A: U.S. House — Tara Sweeney

The Daily News asked candidates for statewide office in the Aug. 16 Alaska primary and special U.S. House elections to answer a series of issue and biographical questions to help voters understand their positions. Some questions were suggested by readers. Read all the responses here.

Tara Sweeney • Party: Republican • Occupation: Small-business owner/Consultant • Age: 48 • Residence: Girdwood •

Relevant experience or prior offices held

13th assistant secretary of Indian Affairs at The U.S. Department of the Interior; Former executive, Arctic Slope Regional Corp., Former co-chair, Alaska Federation of Natives. Former International Chair, Arctic Economic Council.

Why are you running for office?

I’m running for Congress to focus on the future of our state. Alaska needs leadership that understands how to make and implement laws. I have that experience. I’ve worked my entire professional career advocating within the Congressional branch, and my work as Assistant Secretary provided me with the Executive branch experience necessary to effectively represent Alaska in Washington, D.C. No other candidate has this type of experience and exposure to the policy pressure-cooker within our Nation’s capital. My campaign is focused on empowerment for Alaskan communities and bringing people together. I understand that we need to continue the development of our natural resources, maximize our strategic location in the interest of national security, and advance the infrastructure that’s necessary to promote a robust economy, strong labor force and healthy communities.

Name two big problems or challenges currently facing Alaska and how you plan to address them if elected.

As I travel the state, inflation and sustainable fish management with all user groups are top of mind for Alaskans. Inflation must be tackled. If elected, I will ensure Congressional oversight hearings aimed at holding the Biden Administration accountable for their failed monetary and supply-side policies, which are devastating Alaskan families. Sustainable fish management is critical for all user groups to feed their families. Subsistence, personal use, commercial and sports fishing stakeholders are all concerned about the declining, and in some cases decimation, of fish stocks across the state. My approach is to secure the funding necessary for research and data collection in order to understand why certain species and stocks are declining or crashing, and to appropriate federal funds for innovation within the industry to support sustainable maximum yield. I will also work to bring together all user groups to be part of the discussion and strategy for fisheries management.

Do you believe Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 presidential election? If you believe there was fraud, where and how do you think it took place?

Yes, I believe Biden won the election. I also believe President Trump was within his right to demand an investigation into voting irregularities to determine whether voters’ rights were protected.

Supporters of former President Donald Trump violently attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2020. Do you believe President Trump should be held responsible for the events of Jan. 6?

I think what may have begun in the minds of most was a peaceful protest, but what evolved was shameful, wrong, and detrimental to our Nation’s democratic and constitutional principles.

Do you think Congress should pass legislation to limit or protect abortion access?

I support a women’s right to choose and I would support a straight codification of Roe v. Wade. I do not believe that the federal government should have a role in a woman’s healthcare decisions. That decision is between a woman and her medical provider.

What specific actions, if any, should the U.S. government take to curb gun violence?

There is no single, quick, or simple fix to this problem. Mental health experts, education and public safety professionals, gun rights’ advocates, and community leaders must all come to the table and be included in a substantive conversation about solutions. I am open to considering commonsense and bipartisan proposals to address these serious problems. Any proposal must respect Alaskans’ Second Amendment rights and be disciplined and thoughtful in its approach.

How do you think new resource development projects in Alaska should be balanced with the interests of environmental protection and climate change mitigation?

Alaska has the highest standards for environmental protection in the world. Growing up on the North Slope, I understand the importance of ensuring local perspectives have a seat at the decision-making table. Taking best practices from North Slope community engagement and project development and incorporating them into an Alaska standard, is where I would start. As Wall Street attempts to drive behavior in supplication to extremist environmental groups, Alaskan companies are engaged in opportunities to lead our Nation in carbon capture technologies, carbon sequestration, and off-sets to voluntarily mitigate their carbon footprints. We can still do more by working together. All stakeholders need to come together to carve a sustainable path forward for the benefit of Alaskans today and generations into the future.

How will you promote putting aside partisan politics to address complex issues in Congress?

My priority will always be what is best for Alaska. My candidacy represents those who believe in bringing people together, and I will lead to build a strong network of support for Alaskan issues. Complex, national issues must first pass the litmus test, “Is it good for Alaska and our economy?”

Do you believe the federal government is well positioned to continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic and other future pandemics that may emerge?

We need to prepare our country for the next pandemic through superior regulations, and by cutting unnecessary red tape that would hamstring the private sector’s response to a public health crisis. I support investing as much as it takes to protect our country’s national security from bio threats and pandemics. I will follow the evidence and the advice of our nation’s best non-political, non-partisan experts.

Should transgender athletes be allowed to compete in sports according to the gender with which they identify?

I do not support biological males being able to compete in women’s sports. However, I do believe we should consider creating opportunities for transgender males or females to compete within their own designations so they, too, have the opportunity to compete. We should not let fear drive the evolution of inclusiveness and acceptance. I strongly believe that as a society we should lead with compassion. We need to provide the necessary support networks for those either struggling with their own gender or sexual orientation, or those who are out & proud. I stand by my Iñupiaq value, Nagliktuutiqaġniq, Compassion, and will fight to preserve compassion towards the LGBTQ+ community - every day.

The federal infrastructure bill, which was voted for by all members of Alaska’s congressional delegation, stands to bring millions in federal funding to projects in Alaska. How would you ensure Alaska maximizes the benefits of this bill?

Alaska is a resource rich and infrastructure poor state. Our roads, bridges, ports, ferries, water treatment plants, and sanitation systems are severely lacking. With passage of last year’s infrastructure package, billions of dollars of much needed investment are headed our way. We must work together to maximize this investment, and make sure we have an Alaskan workforce that is ready to fill the jobs. I will continue to fight for Alaska’s fair share.

What should the federal government be doing to curb inflation and strengthen the U.S. economy?

As a free-market capitalist, I generally believe in less government regulation in all facets of our economy. However, this inflation crisis is the worst in 40 years, and it’s hitting Alaska families hard. This Administration is refusing to implement policies to prevent hyper-inflation, and is actively opposing measures, such as domestic energy production, that would prevent a worsening crisis. Alaska is a key part of the solution to the inflation wreaking havoc on our Nation’s economy. On the supply side, we can unleash our domestic energy supplies TODAY. We should also be looking to drive investment into our state that promotes domestic production of goods. Alaska’s economy is just too important to send inexperienced leadership to Washington, D.C. I bring that experience.

What should be done, if anything, to change federal immigration policies?

President Biden’s open border policies are not working. We need to be enforcing our immigration laws to stop illegal immigration, secure our border, and end the humanitarian crisis that has come as a result of President Biden’s failed immigration policies. We also need to make sure law enforcement and other agencies responsible for keeping our border secure have the tools they need to do their job. I believe in providing transparency and support for legal immigration as supported by our country’s business community, and I support DACA.

What is the country’s biggest national security threat?

Communist China is the biggest threat to our national security.

Where do you want Alaska and the U.S. to be five years from now in regard to emissions reductions and adaptation to the effects of climate change?

I support efforts to commercialize Alaska’s geothermal, hydro, wind, tidal and other renewable energy sources. I recognize that renewable energy is a growing part of Alaska’s and America’s energy portfolio. Although we will continue to depend on new oil and gas production to power our economy, I believe we should take an “all of the above” approach to our nation’s energy portfolio and look to ways to strengthen investment into renewable resources.

What other important issue would you like to discuss?

We all have a role in stopping domestic violence and sexual abuse throughout Alaska. As Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, I led the implementation of Operation Lady Justice – a task force to combat the crisis of missing & murdered Native Americans. To arrest these alarming trends, we must commit to education, partnership, advocacy, and intervention. It will take all of us working together. Just as I have done in the past, I will continue to work to stomp out this scourge while serving you in Washington, D.C.