Story last updated at 12:44 p.m. Thursday, May 2, 2002

Ulmer brings gubernatorial campaign to Homer
by Joel Gay
Staff Writer

photo: news
  Photo by R. J. Kelly, Homer News
Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer chats with Nelda Osgood, of Tutka Bay Lodge, and Jo Carey, foreground, during the Homer Chamber of Commerce mixer Friday at the Fresh Sourdough Express Bakery and CafE.  
Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer spent Friday in Homer, talking with senior citizens, high school students, commercial fishermen and business owners about her vision for Alaska and to get a better sense of the residents of the end of the road.

Although her gubernatorial campaign paid for the trip, her message was the same whether she was speaking as the state's second-highest executive or as a candidate for the top job, she said.

"In a sense, being a candidate and serving really aren't that much different," said Ulmer.

The two-term lieutenant governor is the front-runner in the Aug. 27 Democratic primary. She faces only Michael Beasley of Fairbanks after Nels Anderson Jr. of Dillingham switched parties and primaries last week, although the filing period remains open until May 31.

Homer is typically a Democratic stronghold in a largely Republican state, and Ulmer said she had been warmly received. One elder at the senior center vowed his support, "Then he opened his wallet and gave me $3," Ulmer said. "He said, 'It's not much, but I want you know I'm behind you 100 percent.'"

As lieutenant governor, Ulmer said she is disappointed that the Alaska Legislature appears unlikely to approve new taxes to span the fiscal gap.

"The good news," she said, is that the coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans, including Rep. Drew Scalzi of Homer, has tried hard to come up with a comprehensive package to raise revenues. "I really compliment both Republicans and Democrats" who have stuck out their necks on the issue, she said.

Knowles has proposed alcohol, cruise ship and income taxes, which Ulmer said "may not be the perfect taxes, but there may not be a perfect tax."

However, she wouldn't suggest any other options for revenue sources, she said, "because I'm lieutenant governor first and a candidate second."

Ulmer said she supports a vote on the subsistence issue, and approves of efforts to restructure the salmon industry. She said a menu of restructuring options is needed because no two areas of the state will require the same assistance.

Ulmer has called for revamping the Alaska Board of Fisheries. She envisions splitting the board into three or more regional boards, each of which would be responsible for its own fisheries. To decide interregional issues, the boards would have two members on a statewide board.

"It's not another layer of bureaucracy, it's more democracy," she said. "It's bringing those decisions closer to the people affected by them."

On the huge issue facing federal fishery managers known as rationalization, Ulmer said the decisions should be made in Alaska by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, and not in Congress.

Ulmer said she agreed with Republican primary candidate Wayne Anthony Ross that Sen. Frank Murkowski, the GOP front-runner, should stay in Washington, D.C.

"I hear that a lot," she said. "Realistically, we are so dependent upon on federal decisions" that Alaska stands to lose economically as it loses seniority in Washington, D.C.

On the other hand, she acknowledged that she is the underdog in the upcoming gubernatorial election.

"I understand that. But I've been here in Alaska for 30 years working on government issues, and I'm very conscious of the need to be local. We are not governed from a distance. I think Alaskans want a governor who will roll up her sleeves and from a very human level work with the people to make every opportunity for the state and

its citizens."