Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 2:06 PM on Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Incumbent: Tom Wagoner

Profiles of Candidates for Senate District O

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer


Tom Wagoner

With redistricting adding the southern peninsula to an area he has represented since 2003, Sen. Thomas H. "Tom" Wagoner, R-Kenai, is becoming better acquainted with Homer and the surrounding area.

He has been going from business to business, introducing himself and answering voters' questions. A recent stop to meet employees and customers at Alyeska Tire led to discussions about career politicians in Washington, D.C., Social Security, taxes, fish and game regulations and boating requirements.

"This is what I love to do," said Wagoner of getting to know voters.


Residence: Kenai

Age: 69

Born: Pylesville, Md.

Spouse: Dorothy

Children: Dawn, Denise

Occupation: Retired, small businessman, commercial fishing

In Alaska: 43 years

Alaskan communities resided: Kenai since 1969

Education: Pomeroy High School, 1960; bachelor of arts, Eastern Washington University, 1966; bachelor of arts, education, University of Alaska Anchorage, 1969; master's degree in education/administration, University of Alaska Anchorage, 1980

Political and government positions: Alaska Senate, 2003-present; chairman, Community and Regional Affairs Committee, 2003 and member 2004-present; member, Transportation Committee, 2003, and co-chair 2004; vice-chair, Resources Committee, 2003-2004, chair 2005-2006, member 2007-2008, co-chair 2011-2012; member, Legislative Council, 2003-2006; member, World Trade and State Federal Affairs, 2005-present; vice-chair, State Affairs, 2005-2006; three years, Kenai city mayor; three years, Kenai City Council; three years, Alaska Postsecondary Committee

Business and professional positions: Owner, Wagoner's Seamless Flooring, 1967-1968; owner, Wagoner's Flooring, 1971-1975; owner, Peninsula Flooring Center, 1986-1993; vocational education coordinator, business manager/budget officer, dean of vocational education, dean of instruction, Kenai Peninsula Community College

Service organizations: Charter member, Kenai Rotary Club; past president and board member, Kenai Chamber of Commerce; advisory board, Salvation Army; Elks No. 2425; NRA

Special interests: Fishing, lapidary arts

To contact: (907) 283-7996; Email: gemstone@alaska.net. Emails should include phone number.

A small business owner and commercial fisherman, Wagoner's political career began because of a road he wanted built in his Kenai neighborhood. He served on the Kenai City Council before becoming Kenai's mayor. In 2003, he was elected to the Alaska Senate to represent District Q, the central peninsula, and has continued to serve that area.

Wagoner said he is running for office again because of the effectiveness his experience offers.

"Oil taxes have been before us for eight years, so I have a good background. ... I don't mind giving (oil companies) credits, but they need to show me they're increasing production," he said.

Mention of oil and gas production leads to discussion of increased exploration of the Cook Inlet basin. A "stampede" is how Wagoner describes it.

"That is solely a result of legislation I did with the minority three years ago," said Wagoner.

Having learned tests indicated oil existed beneath what has been tapped into, "my idea was to drill at least three wells deep and see if we can find that pool of oil. I don't know if we'll find it, but at least we'll find out," said Wagoner.

Incentives offered to the first jack-up rigs to arrive have resulted in a rig owned by Furie Alaska now at work in the inlet and plans by Buccaneer Energy also to bring a rig into the area.

Wagoner pointed to his efforts to encourage the enhancement of Alaska's king salmon.

"As member of the Senate Finance sub-committee that reviewed (the Alaska Department of) Fish and Game budget, I directed the commissioner to bring forth a five-year-plan to research existing hatcheries, look at their capacity to raise salmon, look at the cost and evaluate which streams we should be funding," said Wagoner.

He noted the recent groundbreaking for a $20 million health care facility for the Kenaitze Indian Tribe in Kenai, a project "of which I am a major figure," he said. He also noted his role in getting $2.7 million into the governor's budget for studying ocean acidification.

"These are the type of things you do that people don't see," said Wagoner.

Asked what separates him from his opponent, Peter A. Micciche, R-Soldotna, Wagoner noted Micchiche's current roles as mayor of Soldotna and manager of ConocoPhillips' natural gas and LNG facility in Kenai.

"I have no ties to industry or anything else," said Wagoner.

Asked about his involvement with the Senate's bi-partisan working group, Wagoner said, "The reason I joined the coalition was because my district was not getting its share of capital items. It was necessary for the well-being of my community."

He characterized his effort with the group as "frustrating" and said he would not be involved with the group in the future.

With regard to the impact redistricting had on his decision to run for office, Wagoner said he decided to seek re-election before the new district lines were drawn.

"But with Homer in the mix, there are a lot more community activities. It keeps you moving," he said.

It also has raised questions from voters about his stand on bringing natural gas from Anchor Point to Homer and Kachemak City.

"I wasn't against the gas line, but I was against the way it was funded," he said. "I understand everybody wanting gas. My problem was getting the state to pay for it. I don't see the state funding something that becomes part of Enstar."

This year's state capital budget includes $8.1 million to construct the pipeline, with city voters still to decide exactly how distribution lines to city homes and businesses will be funded.

"It isn't up to me. It's the people that live in Homer and Kachemak City that have the final decision," said Wagoner of city voters' role in forming special assessment districts for natural gas distribution lines.