Debate on whether Alaska should hold a constitutional convention set for Thursday

Alaska Constitution

This year, Alaskans will determine whether the state will hold a constitutional convention. It’s a question that appears on the ballot once each decade, and has never before been approved by Alaska voters.

That could change this year, depending on how Alaskans vote in the November election. If approved by voters, a constitutional convention would enable elected delegates to revisit the state’s constitution, which could bring major changes to Alaska.

To help voters understand this issue, Alaska news organizations and the UAA Seawolf Debate Program have partnered up to host a debate featuring advocates for and against holding a constitutional convention.

The debate, which will be livestreamed, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium in Anchorage. Debating on the pro-convention side are Bob Bird, chairman of the Alaskan Independence Party and host of Talk of the Kenai (on KSRM 920 AM), and former Alaska Lt. Gov. Loren Leman. Representing the anti-convention side are Joelle Hall, president of the Alaska AFL-CIO, and Matt Shuckerow, the owner of Fathom Strategic Communications.

Alaska Public Media’s news director Lori Townsend will moderate, and the debate will feature questions from a panel of journalists representing Alaska Public Media, Alaska Beacon and the Anchorage Daily News. The event is free and open to members of the public.

When: 7 p.m. Thursday; doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Wendy Williamson Auditorium at the University of Alaska Anchorage, 2533 Providence Drive


Cost: Free

Watch online: The debate will be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook.

This debate is organized by Alaska Public Media and the UAA Seawolf Debate Program, and co-sponsored by the Anchorage Daily News, Commonwealth North and the Alaska Beacon. Support for the event was provided by the Alaska Center for Excellence in Journalism and the Atwood Foundation.

[Advocates say a constitutional convention could end gridlock in Juneau. Opponents say it would open a ‘Pandora’s box.’]