Story last updated at 1:22 p.m. Thursday, August 22, 2002

Challenger calls for change, focuses on budget deficit, accountability
Paul Seaton
Why I'm running

photo: election2002
Paul Seaton  
I am running for office because we need new people with better ideas to replace a dysfunctional Legislature.

We need people who will listen and can solve problems. We need representatives who are willing to work in public and obey the Open Meetings Act. We need representatives who will stand up for their principles, yet work together. We need a representative who will be accountable for his actions and not use the excuse that everything was "just put out for discussion."

With reapportionment, we have an opportunity to clean house and elect people who do not support the good-old-boy system. The majority of our legislators and all the leadership will be new this year. We need to elect someone who does not support last year's old ways -- which did not work!

Some priorities I have for Alaska and this district are:

  • Make government leaders accountable;

  • Close the fiscal gap;

  • Protect our permanent fund dividend;

  • Expand the economy through private sector jobs;

  • Support education quality and funding; and

  • Promote sustainable development.

    Throughout the campaign I have outlined specifics to accomplish these.

    Our last legislature failed to get the job done for Alaskans. Each chamber wants to blame the other, and they both blame the governor.

    The closed-caucus system was used to devise strategy to work against the other body instead of working together to accomplish the job for which they were elected. Rep. Scalzi supports the continuation of the closed caucus, "secret" meeting system.

    The Senate only wanted a spending cap and the House only wanted to raise taxes. We need both. Instead of ignoring the Senate-mandated spending cap, we needed a representative who would support a phase-in of cuts and taxes to put our house in order.

    In the end, our representative did not cut one dime from the budget. He supported a billion-dollar personal tax increase, which he admits had no chance of passing. In the midst of this budget crisis, Rep. Scalzi supported a $1.9 billion capital budget -- the biggest since 1984, when we were awash in oil money. That spending-spree bill will send us deeper into debt by at least $64 million each year for the next 20 years. How was this "solving our biggest problem?"

    Solving our biggest problem, narrowing the budget gap, will take more than just increased taxes. I have proposed working with the new governor to change the system by which some services are delivered to yield economic efficiency.

    The only way we can cut the levels of bureaucracy is by changing to a system of contract provision of service. We do this already with road construction, which saves the state money without accumulating a bureaucratic load. We need to investigate similar applications elsewhere.

    Our past representative says we must start using the permanent fund earnings, and he introduced HB 398 to do just that, reducing the PFD by $850. On Aug. 15, Gov. Jay Hammond filed a petition for the collection of initiative signatures to prevent the Legislature from using the earnings. I am confident Gov. Hammond's voter initiative and my priority to protect the PFD will prevail. We need representatives with better ideas who are willing to work from both the spending and revenue ends of the problem to balance the budget.

    Many bills introduced or passed this year disadvantaged our district. For example, Rep. Scalzi's gross receipt tax would tax small businesses at twice the rate of big-box stores, and his corporate ownership of Hair Crab entry permits would result in our district losing two-thirds of our economic potential from that fishery.

    Although fishery issues are complicated, two other bills sponsored by Rep. Scalzi similarly disadvantaged our district. I have pledged to consult the businesses and resource users before introducing legislation that would affect them. Furthermore, I have promised to have a weekly e-mail newsletter to keep in touch with you and will help coordinate community issue groups to advise me on the implications of pending legislation on the district.

    Education is one of the constitutionally mandated functions of state government. We must look after this great resource, the minds or our children.

    Models now exist in our state that are expanding the horizon of all our students by appropriately teaching to their individual learning styles -- and doing so at a cost less than standard programs. We must raise our commitment to recruit and retain great teachers, but also empower them with systems designed for individual progress. Details are available through my Web site education link to the Chugach model at I have proposed a two-year education budget cycle and investigation of inflation-proofing the foundation formula as we do for the permanent fund.

    It is time for a change in Juneau, and I have the right mix of new ideas and hard work ethic to get the job done. My background of a master of arts in teaching and a masters of science in marine zoology has given me the analytical skills necessary to tackle the intricate problems facing our state and to craft appropriate solutions.

    I will be an effective representative for you, but I will rely on your knowledge and expertise to keep advising me. No one person or party has all the good ideas, and I pledge to work with everyone to get the job done for you in Juneau.

    I ask you to vote for Republican Paul Seaton on Aug. 27.

    Paul Seaton, a Republican from Kachemak City, is the lone challenger for the House District 35 seat.