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.
Joe Stephens • Party: Alaskan Independence Party • Occupation: Politician • Age: 46 • Residence: Ketchikan • twitter:@JoeStephens999
Relevant experience or prior offices held
Why are you running for office?
High gas prices, high inflation, ongoing pandemics these are the problems that the current leadership has failed to address. Their failures should not be continuously rewarded with re-election.
Name two big problems or challenges currently facing Alaska and how you plan to address them if elected.
I will ensure that the oil industry is allowed to drill for new oil wells and the industry has full government support.
I will fight to ensure that the citizens of Alaska get paid the maximum Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) amount that they deserve. With record high oil prices, the citizens of Alaska deserve to be paid.
I propose that the State of Alaska support the creation of a medical school. We need to train the best and brightest students to face future pandemics. The reliance on the federal government for all our medical needs has proven to be disastrous.
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?
No, the election had numerous irregularities. But without concrete proof it is difficult to overturn the results.
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 don’t think that the former president, Donald Trump had any criminal intent.
How will you promote putting aside partisan politics to address complex issues in Congress?
Teamwork is key. Teamwork makes the Dream work.
What should the federal government be doing to curb inflation and strengthen the U.S. economy?
Inflation is caused mostly by high oil prices. Increasing domestic production while encouraging renewable fuels is the best course of action. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Would you support ending the filibuster to make it easier to pass legislation? Would you support any carve outs to the filibuster for key issues such as abortion access?
No, I am a firm advocate of the filibuster.
Public trust in the Supreme Court is declining. What do you think should be done to improve trust in the court?
Appoint justices who have the courage to stand by their convictions.
Do you think Congress should pass legislation to limit or protect abortion access?
I am a supporter of reproductive rights.
What specific actions, if any, should the U.S. government take to curb gun violence?
Hire more police officers.
How do you think new resource development projects in Alaska should be balanced with the interests of environmental protection and climate change mitigation?
There needs to be a balance. The environment must be protected without sacrificing economic development.
Do you believe the federal government is well positioned to continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic and other future pandemics that may emerge?
No, the federal government has done a poor job with the pandemic. I think there should be a pandemic taskforce. The taskforce should have a single focus dealing with pandemics.
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?
I think that allowing the citizens to propose infrastructure projects that they would like to see happen would be a good start. Then allowing the citizens a chance to vote via referendum on which projects are the most important to them.
Should transgender athletes be allowed to compete in sports according to the gender with which they identify?
No, I don’t think this is fair.
What should be done, if anything, to change federal immigration policies?
Secure the border and Build the Wall. Deport those who stay beyond their allocated time stated on their VISA.
What is the country’s biggest national security threat?
I think Russia is the biggest threat militarily, and China is economically.
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 think Alaska has a lot of potential for renewables, with hydropower in the SouthEast to off-shore Wind power. The State has numerous opportunities to improve its energy footprint.
However, things must be done in a manner that makes sense and does not cause outrageous gas prices, and inflation.
What other important issue would you like to discuss?
I support the Veterans of the U.S. Armed forces. My first initiative in Congress will be to see that all veterans and widows of veterans in the State of Alaska receive 10 free acres of Federal Land. I will also ensure that VA clinics are constructed in all cities in the State of Alaska.