Husband. Businessman. Alaskan.
I first came to Alaska in the Spring of 1981, in my early 20s. Like many Alaskans, my first job involved swinging a hammer. But that was only temporary. With a degree in economics, I was eager to practice in the field.
Two years later, I landed a great job as the corporate economist for a local bank, responsible for researching and forecasting trends in the Alaska economy. The four years I spent in that position were not only enjoyable, they gave me a deep understanding of what drives our economy – that is, our basic industries such as oil, mining, fishing, tourism and others.
In the late 1980s, after the Alaska economy had nose-dived into a very deep recession, I was named the founding president of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation (AEDC). Serving in that role for eight years, I built the organization from the ground up, establishing it as a results-oriented program that created new jobs by facilitating tangible economic development projects.
Examples include bringing two international air cargo hubs to Alaska. Also, landing a major international resort development project. Other smaller projects, too. The strategies I devised for these projects – no two were alike – were recognized as being innovative, while still keeping government’s role to legitimate functions such as infrastructure development. Once we struck a deal, our projects did not fail, the public sector was never left holding the bag.
During those AEDC years, I met my wife Toyoko while traveling to Japan on business. We met on an airplane. That was June, 1991. Exactly one year later, we were married in Anchorage. We have been blessed with a wonderful, talented daughter, Lisa, and a stable marriage that has stood the test of time (25yrs).
My life experience has taught me the importance of a strong and stable economy. Having graduated college in 1980 in the midst of a deep national recession, I experienced the difficulty of landing a good job in those conditions. (Ref: hammer-swinging above) Then, experiencing the severe Alaska crash of the late 1980s taught me how our economy can ruin Alaska families and businesses if it is mismanaged (which it was then and is now).
Having a daughter recently graduated from college, I am now doubly concerned about the availability of good opportunities in Alaska. All too many young Alaskans find themselves having to leave the state in order to find good opportunities. That is a shame – we need to reverse that.
After the AEDC years, I entered my entrepreneur phase and founded two successful businesses. They include an international tour company that employs several Alaskans and a supply chain management company that employs approximately 200. The tour company is 20 years old and the supply chain operation is 18. I have shown the ability to manage large, complex organizations successfully over time, building and leading high quality teams.
Today, I am running for governor because I see a need for some fresh perspective in Juneau, as well as strong management skills and leadership in the Governor’s office. I invite you to join Toyoko and me on this journey.
Why I am Running
In talking with people across Alaska, it is clear to me that voters are very dissatisfied. They overwhelmingly feel that Alaska is ‘on the wrong track’, and they hold our current leaders responsible. They are ready for a change of direction. They are ready for a Governor who will bring new solutions and fresh perspective to Juneau.”
Here are some of my solutions to our current problems:
More Jobs and Opportunities for Alaskans
We need to get our economy moving again. Alaska is in the third year of a slump. And yet, we have more economic opportunities than ever before.
More new oil has been discovered in the past three years than at any time since the Prudhoe Bay discovery. Mining companies have more new projects in the pipeline than ever. Other industries also have ample potential.
We need to move these projects ahead with the same approach I used in the 1980s and 1990s to bring successful air cargo hubs and destination resort development in Alaska.
Stop Deficit Spending
Our legislature and governor have been squandering our savings to the tune of billions of dollars each year. Massive deficit spending must be reined in before our savings accounts are completely drained.
We need to start by trimming our bloated state budget and making meaningful reductions in the operating budget, a job that remains largely undone. Meaningful trimming can only be done with strong leadership from the Governor. And, we need a spending cap that steps the budget down over several years.
Then, we need to start managing our $60 billion Permanent Fund like other large foundations, trusts and sovereign wealth funds are managed. Taking these steps will balance the budget and fund a healthy, stable and growing dividend for Alaskans.
New, broad based taxes are entirely unnecessary. The steps I have outlined above will close the fiscal gap. Our current governor and the House Democrats are trying to use the fiscal gap as a scare tactic in order to grow an already over-sized state budget.
Depoliticize the Dividend Program
Governor Walker made a grave error when he vetoed the Permanent Fund Dividend amount by half. Rather than being driven by a formula, it is now whatever the Governor thinks it should be.
We need to get back to a formula driven program and set that firmly in law, preferably in the constitution. We need to dedicate a set percentage of Permanent Fund earnings to the dividend, as we have done for decades. We need to think of it as a “minimum dividend,” thereby creating powerful political incentives for lawmakers to increase it even further as spending is reduced.
By taking these steps, we will restore the public trust that Gov. Walker has shattered. And, we will put the dividend back on a growth path, such that Alaskan families can plan for the near term and see upside potential in their future.
The dividend needs to be set at the highest level we can afford without levying broad based taxes to pay for it. Should we ever find ourselves taxing one another in order to pay one another dividends, we would forever alter the character of the PFD program and make Alaska a very different state. The good news is that the numbers work without resorting to new taxes — we can already afford a dividend that is much higher than today’s politically arbitrary $1,100.
The dividend has always been intended to be Alaskan families’ “piece of the action”, their share of the state’s oil wealth. We need to get back to that.
Arrest the Alaska Crime Wave
When Governor Walker and the legislature passed criminal justice reform (Senate Bill 91) in 2015, they touched off a crime wave. Our communities are much more dangerous than they were just two years ago. Public safety has deteriorated very quickly. Better approaches are needed.
Simply failing to prosecute first and second time offenders is not the answer. It is essential to prosecute even minor crimes aggressively. We need stronger deterrents and a so-called “broken windows approach” to law enforcement.
One idea is to levy heavy fines for first and second time offenses, and prosecute those minor crimes more aggressively. Those who are unable to pay should be required to work off their fines through public service, such as picking up litter and cleaning public facilities.
Several other measures are also needed, such as greater use of home confinement and more funding for public safety.
These approaches would put strong deterrents back into place and result in less crime of all types.
In the News
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