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.
Kelly Tshibaka • Party: Republican • Occupation: Wife, mother of five, candidate for the U.S. Senate • Age: 42 • Residence: Anchorage • www.KellyForAK.com
Relevant experience or prior offices held
After serving as Alaska’s commissioner of administration from January 2019 to March 2021, I announced my campaign for the United States Senate. I previously served as chief data officer for the Inspector General of the U.S. Postal Service under Presidents Trump and Obama. I also was acting inspector general for the Federal Trade Commission, counsel to the Inspector General in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and served in the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Justice.
Why are you running for office?
I’m running for the Senate because the people of Alaska stood up for me and gave me opportunities. Now I want to stand up for the people of Alaska.
Our resource industries and economy have been destroyed by Joe Biden and his radical cabinet members – nearly all of whom were confirmed by our 21-year Senate incumbent.
I’ve spent my career holding government insiders accountable. I will fight to make government work for the people of Alaska, instead of working against us. I am from Alaska and for Alaska. When I represent Alaska in the Senate, I will never forget the Alaskans who sent me there.
Name two big problems or challenges currently facing Alaska and how you plan to address them if elected.
Our state is under relentless assault from President Biden and the Washington, D.C. elite who are destroying our industries, killing our jobs, driving up inflation and gas prices, and crushing our families. I will work to protect our jobs, build affordable housing, cut federal spending and taxes, and block those trying to shut down our resource industries.
Alaska needs a senator who stands up for Alaskans and for our rights, not one who goes along with D.C. insiders to confirm presidential nominees at the expense of our rights and our way of life. I will support nominees who advocate for parents’ rights to be involved in their children’s education, respect our 2nd Amendment and other constitutional rights, and recognize our rights to develop our land in ways that are environmentally responsible.
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?
While I recognize that Joe Biden is President, I nonetheless believe that legitimate questions still exist with respect to the 2020 election. Those legitimate questions demand legitimate answers in order to restore a collective trust in the integrity of our electoral process.
For example, a Pennsylvania court recently ruled that the state’s mail-in ballot law was unconstitutional, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg spent over $300 million in grants to local elections offices – a massive private election funding effort that further fueled mistrust in the 2020 electoral process.
Tens of millions of Americans across the country – many of them here in Alaska – still have legitimate questions about the 2020 election. They deserve answers.
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?
The people who trespassed, destroyed property, and engaged in violence are the ones who should be held responsible for their own actions.
How will you promote putting aside partisan politics to address complex issues in Congress?
I have been effective at solving problems in government and maintaining my integrity simply by knowing the difference between my preferences and my principles. I am willing to compromise on preferences to get things done, but if you compromise on principles, you cannot be trusted.
For example, I drafted legislation to create the Intelligence Community Inspector General. It took me 5 years to get it through the approval of 17 agencies, the White House, both chambers of Congress and both parties. I had to compromise on a lot of preferences along the way, but I did not compromise on the fundamental principles behind the legislation.
I look forward to engaging in wide-ranging discussions of policy with any member of the Senate, and to finding common ground wherever possible. But I will not compromise on what is right for Alaska.
What should the federal government be doing to curb inflation and strengthen the U.S. economy?
The federal government must stop runaway spending, which pumps too much money into the economy too quickly, devaluing the dollar and driving prices for goods and services higher. We must recommit to increasing the domestic production of energy and unleash Alaska’s energy industries to produce more. We must cut government costs and reduce taxes. Finally, we must reduce excessive regulation of businesses and entrepreneurs so they can help grow our economy.
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?
Public trust in the Supreme Court is declining. What do you think should be done to improve trust in the court?
The Senate should work to undo the damage that has resulted from the intense politicization of Supreme Court confirmation proceedings and decisions. Disagreements and wide-ranging discussions about a judicial nominee’s philosophy and record are important. However, unproven accusations about a judicial nominee, by either party, should no longer be tolerated. Finally, threats to impeach Justices over political disagreements and proposals to pack the Supreme Court with additional Justices to achieve desired outcomes also undermine public trust in the Court.
Do you think Congress should pass legislation to limit or protect abortion access?
The Supreme Court has placed decisions on abortion laws in the hands of the states, which is consistent with the Constitution’s 10th Amendment. Like me, many Alaskans are pro-life and oppose the existing state law, which permits abortion on demand even when a baby is full-term. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has held that decisions on abortion access in Alaska are best made by Alaskans, not by Washington, D.C. insiders, many of whom know little to nothing about us.
Finally, I do not support restrictions on access to birth control, which millions of women – myself included – have taken. Birth control and abortion pills are not the same thing. Also, I believe Congress should provide more funding to our local healthcare clinics here in Alaska that provide non-abortive healthcare services to women.
What specific actions, if any, should the U.S. government take to curb gun violence?
I support greater funding directed towards mental health resources, which is at the root of many of the gun violence episodes we have seen recently. I also would support strengthening and improving the security in our nation’s schools. Alaskans rely heavily on their 2nd Amendment rights, and I will oppose any effort to infringe on those rights.
How do you think new resource development projects in Alaska should be balanced with the interests of environmental protection and climate change mitigation?
In Alaska, we are capable of producing energy cleaner and more efficiently than other nations in the world, which is why it is so reckless and nonsensical for President Biden to clamp down on domestic production while roaming the globe asking less environmentally responsible nations to increase their own output. Alaskans are capable of producing oil and natural gas in ways that protect our environment. That said, reducing energy-killing regulations and facilitating technological innovations in oil and gas production will enable us to continue improving our approaches to resource development and environmental protection. More innovation, less regulation.
Do you believe the federal government is well positioned to continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic and other future pandemics that may emerge?
The worst thing the federal government did was to mandate the COVID-19 shot and threaten people with being fired from their jobs, or discharged from the military, if they objected. President Biden’s actions in that regard were an assault on the bodies and livelihoods of the citizens whose freedoms and bodily autonomy he was sworn and duty-bound to protect.
Furthermore, the lockdowns crushed the national economy and drove many Alaska companies out of business. The school shutdowns impacted millions of children across our nation, many of whom lost more than a year or two of their educations.
In short, many Americans have experienced a loss of trust in our government because of the heavy-handed way in which it handled COVID-19.
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?
Sen. Dan Sullivan has exposed how the piles of money Alaska was promised in the infrastructure bill will likely be severely delayed or even completely withheld because of the mountain of regulations the federal bureaucracy is creating to go along with the legislation. The way things stand, we won’t get a single new road or bridge from this funding, but our tax dollars will pay for it anyway.
This is what predictably happens when you make deals with radical environmentalists – they attach unreasonable conditions to funding projects they want to prevent (infrastructure) so they can ram through the funding that advances their agenda (the Green New Deal). I would not fall for bait-and-switch legislation that puts all the power in the hands of unelected bureaucrats who don’t care what happens to Alaskans.
When I am your next senator, I plan to have a grant writer on staff to assist Alaskans in applying for federal funds.
Should transgender athletes be allowed to compete in sports according to the gender with which they identify?
No. The Constitution guarantees rights and equality to all Americans. A lot of young women have put in the grit, sweat, and discipline for a long time to excel in their sports. We should not require them to compete with someone of the opposite sex who has a significant biological advantage. As the mother of five school-aged children, I feel strongly that biological males should compete with other biological males and biological women should compete with other biological women. Women’s rights should not be subordinated to transgender rights, nor should the rights of either group continue to be set against each other as they have.
What should be done, if anything, to change federal immigration policies?
We must require equal, legal, and safe immigration. Someone entering our country illegally through our southern border has a much greater chance of being allowed to stay in America than someone from Africa or Asia who is waiting in line to enter legally. We must stop offering enticements for people to enter our country illegally, like promising deportation moratoriums, free healthcare, work permits, and amnesty. We must enforce the laws we already have, eliminate “sanctuary cities,” provide our border patrol agents the resources they need, and prioritize protecting our nation’s borders. Unlike the 21-year incumbent, I do not support allowing illegal immigrants to commit multiple crimes against U.S. citizens and remain in our country.
What is the country’s biggest national security threat?
Our greatest national security threat is the squandering of our energy independence because of the downstream impact it has on our economy, our military readiness, and our national sovereignty. We need only consider the Biden administration’s blunders that led to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to see how vital domestic energy production is to our nation. Vladimir Putin was emboldened by President Biden’s suspension of sanctions on a coveted pipeline, and continued to export oil and natural gas to the world, including the United States. As a result, Biden was reluctant to sanction Russia’s energy industries, which severely reduced American leverage. In addition, with an ascendant China, our dependance on foreign sources of energy will harm our ability to compete against their enormous economy. There is no question that energy security is 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?
In five years, I would like to get back our land access and energy independence.
If Alaska is allowed to continue producing energy cleaner and more efficiently than other countries, it will reinvest in environmental conservation and innovation that will result in continued progress toward reduced emissions.
Alaska also has a future in renewable energy, but the energy discussion should not be, as President Biden believes, “either renewables, or oil and gas.” It need not be a binary choice. Nevertheless, Biden has required that by 2030, half of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. be electric vehicles. By that same date, Biden has declared 30% of our country’s land and water will be a federal protected area – his “30 by 30 plan.” That is why the Biden administration is targeting much of our state to become a federal protected area. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is leading this charge after Lisa Murkowski cast the tie-breaking vote to advance her nomination to final confirmation.
What other important issue would you like to discuss?
Since I first announced my candidacy for the U.S. Senate sixteen months ago, I’ve traveled enough miles within Alaska to circumnavigate the globe. And from the thousands of Alaskans I’ve met along the way, the overwhelming sentiment I hear is that it’s time for a change in our representation in the Senate.
Alaskans are frustrated by the direction of the country and alarmed at how many of the policies coming out of Washington, D.C. are specifically targeted at us. The Biden administration and the D.C. insiders have attacked our economy, our freedoms, and our very way of life. And too often, we in Alaska feel like the D.C. insiders aren’t listening to us and that we’ve been forgotten.
When I’m the next senator from Alaska, I will never forget the Alaskans who hired me for the job, and I will always stand for the values of the people of this great state.