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By Dan Rudy 

Primary candidates sit down for round-table discussion

 

Dan Rudy/ Wrangell Sentinel

Republican primary candidates Patti Mackey, Agnes Moran and Chere Klein field questions at a round-table discussion moderated by KSTK manager Cindy Sweat in City Hall on Tuesday. Each hopes to become the House District 36 Representative after November's election.

Candidates for the upcoming Republican primary of House District 36 met Tuesday afternoon at Wrangell's City Hall to introduce themselves to potential voters and answer questions in a round-table style discussion.

Chere Klein, Patti Mackey, and Agnes Moran – all from from Ketchikan – made up the panel, which was moderated by KSTK manager Cindy Sweat.

Audience members had the opportunity to ask the panel a policy question, which each candidate then had the opportunity to answer. There were also questions emailed in that Sweat read aloud.

The question topics varied, but the candidates seemed largely of a similar mind on the issues. Asked how they might address a "yes" vote in the upcoming veto referendum regarding Senate Bill 21-also known as the Oil and Gas Production Tax- passed last year, each candidate responded that they will personally vote "no" on the measure.

Moran, Mackey and Klein all said they would prefer to work on improving the current legislation framework rather than rejecting it, returning to the previous ACES system.

"We have to be competitive with North Dakota, Texas and other states," Klein said, citing Alaska's drop to fourth place in national oil production.

Asked what combination of service reductions and new taxes the candidates might support when faced with the prospect of declining revenues, they were of one mind opposing any new taxation.

"I wouldn't support any new taxes," said Klein.

Moran pointed to recent growth in state programming as being a problem, with redundancy in services. She recommended taking a "very aggressive look" at spending items, making reductions where able.

Mackey said the state budget is too dependent on oil royalties and that excessive regulation impedes growth and adds to administrative costs.

Candidates were supportive of continued investment in the region's infrastructure, while looking for alternative, cost-effective solutions to energy production and public ferry services. They also were supportive of mariculture development and continued community revenue-sharing for public services.

Asked whether they would, if elected, want to continue representing the district beyond the one term, Moran replied "I'm in it for the long haul."

"There's only one way to assure we have a voice in the legislature," said Mackey, explaining that building seniority is an important aspect of effective representation.

"It's a minimum of ten to twelve years to get to the positions we need," Klein concluded.

Though taking similar views on these and other issues, what each candidate believes sets them apart is their individual experience.

Klein said, "It's my experience in Juneau...to see the internal workings of the legislature" that sets her apart as a candidate. During her time on outgoing Representative Peggy Wilson's staff, Klein has learned how negotiation and collaboration gets done in Juneau, which she feels equips her to be an effective representative for the district.

"I really do believe I have the broader experience and have built up the contacts in the legislature that we need," said Mackey. In particular, she worked closely with the legislature during her time as a consultant for the Swan Lake-Lake Tyee intertie project and while working for the Ketchikan museum department.

"I think what sets me apart is I've been elected," Moran explained. "Not only that but reelected." She currently sits on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly, to which she has been twice elected. It's a different experience to be accountable to a constituency, Moran said, and she feels her time on the assembly has shown that she can get the job done effectively.

The primary election is on Tuesday, Aug. 19. Absentee voting begins Aug. 4.

The winner of the primary will move on to vie for the seat of outgoing Rep. Peggy Wilson in the general election on Nov. 4.

 

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