Video: Watch the debate on whether Alaska should hold a constitutional convention

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Advocates for and against holding a constitutional convention outlined their positions during a livestreamed debate in Anchorage on Thursday.

The question that will be posed to Alaska voters on the ballot this November is: “Shall there be a Constitutional Convention?”

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.

The constitutional convention question appears on the ballot once each decade, and has never before been approved by Alaskans. But that could change this year. If approved by voters, a constitutional convention would enable elected delegates to revisit the state’s constitution, which could bring major changes to Alaska.

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

To help voters understand the constitutional convention question and why it matters, Alaska news organizations and the UAA Seawolf Debate Program partnered up to host a debate on the issue.


Alaska Public Media’s news director Lori Townsend moderated the debate, which featured questions from a panel of journalists representing Alaska Public Media, Alaska Beacon and the Anchorage Daily News. The event was held at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium on the UAA campus in Anchorage.

The debate was 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.