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

Murkowski, Principi visit Kenai
by Matt Tunseth
Morris News Service-Alaska

U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski was in Kenai on Saturday to show support for military veterans, and brought some backup.

He traveled with U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi, who came to tour the new Veterans Administration Health Clinic, as well as address the state American Legion convention.

Murkowski used the trip to gain support for his gubernatorial race against Democratic candidate Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer. His appearances in the state have increased as the race intensifies. The visit was his second to Kenai last month.

At the VA clinic, Murkowski and Principi stressed the senator's commitment to helping Alaska's large veteran population, and the challenges caring for disabled veterans can pose in Alaska.

Murkowski answered questions on local issues, including the controversial Alaska Board of Fisheries. He said he doesn't favor changing the board process, where one board makes decisions for the entire state. However, he also said the current system is not perfect. "We can improve on it so it's better balanced and more fair."

Murkowski said he'd like to see more opportunities for Alaska students once they finish school. He said he believes too many young people are leaving the state because of a lack of jobs.

"The challenge is to encourage our young people to stay in the state," he said, by expanding the economy.

"The Kenai Peninsula is very fortunate," Murkowski said, adding that the Peninsula can further develop natural resources without damaging the environment.

<> Matt Tunseth is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.