Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 4:50 PM on Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Incumbent wants to see terminus for natural gas line in Cook Inlet

Race for Senate District O: GOP candidates explain differences

By Tom Wagoner
Point of View


Tom Wagoner

Good, Bad and Ugly

The good thing about campaigns is that they end — Aug. 28.

"Bad" is when there is limited public attention — but not this time.

"Ugly" is when the campaign rhetoric turns into personal attacks or ridiculous innuendos. That has happened and it's wrong.

My opponent's ads imply that I'm not here in the district in the winters. It's a given that he has to show "differences" between us, to convince people of the value of his candidacy. But his major "difference" is an ugly, bogus residency slam.

And it's sad too; sad that he lowered himself to that level and that he involved my wife and family in such a personal way.

It's a slippery slope to claim I spend "winters" somewhere else. Because I do — I spend January through April in Juneau as your Senator.

So he's kind of correct — but that's just absurd.

But enough of that; there are some very real differences between us. Here's a few.

• He works for an oil company (Conoco Phillips) and I do not.

• I support targeted funding, outside the school funding formula, for education issues like transportation and he does not.

• He supports the bullet line (now called ASAP) and I support Governor Parnell's Gasline Plan first, then ASAP if the big line fails.

• But the biggest difference between us is the terminus for a natural gas line. I want Nikiski to be directly competitive with Valdez and have the terminus come to the Cook Inlet.

He isn't concerned with where it goes. In fact, during the Kenai/Soldotna chamber debate on Aug. 15 he said "The reality of it is, who cares?"

Well I care — I care deeply and so do the service industry owners and employees. The economic spinoff would be enormous. Those wages trickle all over the district — to restaurants, car dealerships — and a multitude of other direct and indirect economic benefits.

The assessed evaluation of the area would be vastly increased — which in turns increases revenues to our local and regional government, which means better services, and so on. Simply put, we would all have a better standard of living. Do I care about having a better standard of living in my district — you bet I do.

Wrapping up, this year's capital budget for HD 33-35 is some $148 million. There are roads, senior centers, school improvements, fire halls, chinook salmon monitoring projects listed, and many, many more projects. Each project is important to the peninsula and I voted yes on the budget.

In closing, here are just two capital projects I was directly involved with which benefit this area.

• Dena'ina Wellness Center: In two years, I provided $10 million in state funds (the governor matched it with $10 million) to capture $200 million in federal operating funds from the Bureau of Indian Health Service. The new center provides for medical, dental, wellness and behavioral health services to over 3,500 resident Alaska Native and American Indians in our area. Over 100 new permanent and sustainable jobs will be added to the economy. All state programs will be open to the general public and I am working with Kenaitze Tribe on the possibilities of adding a Veteran's Clinic.

• Ocean Acidification Project: I went directly to Governor Parnell, asked for his support for this project and he agreed. $2.7 million was added to the university's capital budget for an Alaska buoy network. It involves partners like NOAA. The data will be used to develop a model for researchers studying the effects of ocean acidification on specific Alaska organisms.