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.
Samuel A. “Al” Merrill • Party: Republican • Occupation: Commercial pilot • Age: 64 • Residence: Anchorage • merrillforak.com
Relevant experience or prior offices held
Airline Captain, small business owner (largest flight school in Alaska)
Why are you running for office?
The three most important words in the constitution are “We the People”. The people no longer run the government, the career politicians and the Washington DC insiders do. I am running for office of US Senate because we need to have representatives in Washington DC who understand and know how the laws that are made affect the working people and business owners. I believe I can fulfill this role for Alaska.
Name two big problems or challenges currently facing Alaska and how you plan to address them if elected.
Just like the rest of the nation, inflation and education are two very big challenges facing Alaska. Inflation is caused by supply and demand. The Covid lockdowns made the supply issues worse. The demand issue was made worse by the money given out by the government and the war on fossil fuels. We need to go back to energy independence by re- opening up the oil fields in Alaska. We need to drill for the natural gas and construct a pipeline to get the natural gas where it can be shipped. We need to mine our natural resources and we can do it more environmentally safe than any other country in the world. Our students need an educaiton with the basics of math, reading/writing, science, and history and not with critical race theory and woke cancel culture. We need to get more students to go to trade schools and college here in Alaska and remain in the state.
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 Joe Biden won the election, but less legitimately than most elections. I do think there was fraud with ballots and machines. Changing the timeframe and mailing unrequested ballots out in bulk was not a legal or smart thing to do by the governors and election officials during the Covid lockdown.
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?
No. I think that there were a lot of people responsible for the attack.
How will you promote putting aside partisan politics to address complex issues in Congress?
I am willing to put my personal feelings aside and sit down to discuss any matter with anybody. I do this on a daily basis dealing with employees and customers in my own company.
What should the federal government be doing to curb inflation and strengthen the U.S. economy?
Increasing, not decreasing, our energy independence from resources within our own country and work seriously on returning manufacturing to the United States so we are not dependent on other countries for our supplies and products.
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. No. What will the Democrats do when the Republicans get control of the house and the senate and they need the filibuster. It is a tool that makes everybody slow down before another law is made.
Public trust in the Supreme Court is declining. What do you think should be done to improve trust in the court?
Nothing. I think the rhetoric being thrown around by the news media and others is instigating the mistrust in the Supreme Court.
Do you think Congress should pass legislation to limit or protect abortion access?
No I think it is a state issue.
What specific actions, if any, should the U.S. government take to curb gun violence?
Enforce the laws to the maximum we have already in place.
How do you think new resource development projects in Alaska should be balanced with the interests of environmental protection and climate change mitigation?
I think it is extremely important to protect our environment because Alaska is one of the most beautiful states in our country. I think we are more concerned about the environment and can do a better job developing natural resource projects than any other country.
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 now have several vaccines and boosters for those who choose to take them and natural immunity to help us combat the ever mutating Covid virus. Working through bipartisan issues surrounding mitigation will help us fight future 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?
Make sure the money is spent to maximize the roads and airports to get around the largest state in the union.
Should transgender athletes be allowed to compete in sports according to the gender with which they identify?
No, because a male competing as a female still has more testosterone than a female who would be ruled ineligible if she were drug tested and was positive for testosterone.
What should be done, if anything, to change federal immigration policies?
We should simplify some of the immigration policies.
What is the country’s biggest national security threat?
The border. We are allowing drugs, criminals, and terrorists into our country that threaten our safety.
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 believe in climate change, just look at the dinosaurs. We do need to reduce emissions, but all of our current energy and transportation sources have their issues. We need to start working together to find a better solution.
What other important issue would you like to discuss?
Instead of each political party blaming the other we need to go back to old fashion values, morals, and common sense. The Bible and the constitution are a good start. Both give us the right to do basically what we want, but there are consequences for our actions. Additionally, our rights do not give us the freedom to infringe upon other people’s rights.