mike dunleavy alaska´s new goVernor
Midterm elections in Alaska were held on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. Republican candidate Mike Dunleavy will be the next governor of Alaska. He won the election with about 52 percent of the vote. His Democratic opponent Mark Begich, a former U.S senator, had about 44 percent of the vote. Gov. Bill Walker had 2 percent of the vote despite having suspended his re-election campaign and announcing support for Begich.
Dunleavy is a former state Senator for District D. He was first elected to the senate in 2012 and resigned earlier this year to focus on his campaign. Before politics, Dunleavy’s career was in education. He holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Dunleavy has worked as a school teacher, principal, superintendent, and has served on the school board of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District.
Before the election, Sol de Medianoche’s editorial board sent the gubernatorial candidates a questionnaire covering what the board thought were essential topics: immigration, education, public safety, health, jobs/finance, and the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend. Below are the answers provided by governor-elect Mike Dunleavy.
What do you think is the role of minorities in Alaska?
I am grateful for the many diverse ethnic heritages that are present in our state. My wife of 31 years is an Alaskan Native, from the village of Noorvik. We believe strongly in seeing people as equals, regardless of race or gender. These are values we’ve worked hard to pass on to our three daughters.
The PFD is critically important to our less affluent Alaskans, who are disproportionately minorities.
How would you address dividend payments?
I understand how important the PFD check is to many Alaska families, especially those that survive on a limited income. I have spoken with hundreds of Alaskans over the years who have told me how important the PFD check is for their household budget.
As Governor, I will support paying Alaskans a full PFD. This year, if we had followed the law, the dividend amount would have been nearly twice as much $2,982. I will also work to refund to Alaskans the amount of their PFD checks that was vetoed by Governor Walker or not funded by the legislature in recent years.
What is your plan for high quality education for our children, youth, and adults?
It is no secret that our educational system is not meeting the needs of many of our children. This is a scandal and should be treated as such. I believe we need a “back to basics” approach, where we focus on improving outcomes in core subjects: reading, writing, math, science, and vocational-technical education. We need to shift resources to teaching reading skills in the early grades. Research shows that if a child cannot read proficiently by fourth grade, he or she will be hampered in every subject for the duration of their schooling. Improving outcomes in this one area will vastly increase the chances of a child’s success for the rest of their years in school.
What is your position regarding violence against women in Alaska? What would you do to improve it?
Most Alaskans are familiar with our state’s dismal statistics regarding rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse. But behind the cold numbers are the heartbreaking stories of thousands of women who have been victimized. I see this issue primarily from the perspective of a husband and a father. My wife and I have three daughters, and we have no greater responsibility than to protect them from harm.
Our criminal justice system needs to mete out swift and harsh punishment for offenders. One of the most predictive factors for someone perpetrating a sexual assault is to have committed a previous sexual assault – which underscores the crucial importance of prosecuting the crime of rape swiftly and effectively.
We need to develop and deploy a comprehensive plan for preventing, intervening, and responding to occasions of child sexual abuse, domestic abuse, and sexual violence. We now have compelling social science research on the subject of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and we need to utilize this knowledge effectively in services to abused children, to help prevent the cycle of abuse from being “passed down” to the next generation.
What is your plan for addressing public safety funding?
Protecting public safety is the highest responsibility of government. I will work with the Department of Public Safety to identify those areas where we need more human resources to effectively combat criminal behavior, make provisions in the budget to accommodate these changes, and then move quickly to deploy the personnel needed to protect public safety.
What is your plan to remedy our state’s crime increase? What specifically would you do to reduce crime in our minority communities?
There are multiple causes for our crime epidemic. Yet the SB 91 crime bill, signed into law by Gov. Walker, has certainly made things worse. I support a full repeal of SB 91. We must end “catch and release” of criminals. Our police, prosecutors, and courts must have the resources to do their jobs effectively. We must deliver swift and severe penalties for criminal behavior—especially for persons dealing drugs. The abuse of opioids and other drugs is a major driving force behind crime. We also must focus on strengthening Alaska’s economy, as there is no doubt that the misery caused by our economic recession creates a climate that causes crime to proliferate.
What is your message for the latino community in Alaska?
Why should they vote for you?
I want all Alaskans to prosper, but we need a change of direction. Our economy is struggling, and the worst response would be to impose new taxes and cut the PFD – which is exactly what Mark Begich proposes to do. We can’t tax our way to prosperity. Instead we must develop our natural resources to create family-wage jobs that are the backbone of our economy. We need to create a business climate that promotes investment in Alaska. How can this be done?
By reducing the budget and constraining future growth with a spending cap. By not changing tax policy every few years. By eliminating regulations that obstruct investment. By actually doing these things, instead of just talking about them. Right now, Alaska has the highest unemployment rate in the U.S. But with the right policies, we can build a future where Alaska will have one of the lowest jobless rates anywhere.
Please list Alaska’s top 5 financial priorities.
What do you identify as the necessary components of a sustainable fiscal plan?
My top 5 financial priorities are:
1) Reduce state spending to a sustainable level.
2) Enact a spending cap that will control future growth of the budget.
3) Keep taxes low, so that our economy can grow and prosper.
4) Preserve the Permanent Fund Dividend program.
5) Create a better business climate in Alaska so that we can grow our economy and create new jobs.