0136: The Politics of Alaska (10/20/2018)
Hi, this is teddy today's episode is about Alaska. Here are some facts about Alaska. The capital of goods Juneau in the largest city is Anchorage. Alaska is larger state by area, but it forty by population with around seven hundred fifty thousand people. The governor of Alaska is independent. Bill Walker, the sender's are Republicans. Lisa Murkowski in Dan, Sylvan Alaska sends one Representative to the US house of Representative, a Republican. Are you listening. Hey, everybody. This is Kelly with two broads talking politics. I am super excited in this episode to be talking about the politics of Alaska. I've been looking forward to this one for a while and with me to talk Alaska, politics is Casey Stein out who is the chair of the Democratic Party in Alaska tie Casey. Hi, Kelly. I'm really excited to be the other broad on the line today. Excellent. So before we jump into the craziness of Alaska politics, could you give us just a brief little intro, I sort of who you are and your background in politics? Sure source. So as you said, I'm the chair of the Alaskan Democratic Party and also fortunate to be on the executive committee of the DNC. So that helps us spread the Alaska way as as as I move forward with with that organization, I primarily with a long family back on politics. Finally decided that I had to. Become involved at at a more dramatic level. I for a little background. I worked in watts. Sula Alaska made famous by our former governor and crazy person and during the presidential election. So so Alana with was moving forward. And of course things a little crazy here. And I noted that my neighbors people around me were scared to put Democrats signs in their yards. They their cars are being keyed. Progressives were like, oh, I can't drive through us. So with a democrat signed on my bumper sticker and but it was okay to have a white supremacist sign and that was considered socially acceptable, but somehow to be something as basic an America, the democrat was no longer. Okay. And I just had had enough with that and that kind of projected me into the role that I have. Kind of worked my way through the party as a district share and regional chair and state vice chair. And ultimately, I was just reelected for my second term as the chair of the party in Maine, super, super excited to do it. It's it's a really exciting time in politics and here in Alaska. I know it's really a cliche, but things are just a little different here. Involved. Sue one of the ways things seemed to be a little different in Alaska is the high number of undeclared are independent, both voters in candidates. And so I wondered if you could talk a little bit about that and the the nuance that that brings to the campaigns and the races shor short. So you know, a lot of states, you don't even actually technically register at as a party, but but are do, and there are two different ways. One can run as you alluded to one is that we call him a you, which is an undeclared and an end, which is nonpartisan. So when I talk about quote, independent voters, those are the people I'm talking about. Ironically, we also have an independence party here, Alaska independence party. Those who would choose Alaska to no longer be a state. So there are many folks, sadly, who think that they're registered as an independent. And in fact, they are Alaska independence that's they're registered with. So that's always kind of funny. But in in using end category, it ranges from about fifty three to about fifty six percent depending on when you take a look at the number. So certainly a majority of the population is registered to vote, but not registered with specific party. So that's really interesting. And so about two years ago, all our leadership decided and by that, I mean, our state central committee sore statewide leadership decided that we wanted to engage a higher percentage of the population. And by that we wanted to engage that fifty three to fifty six percent of people who are registered, not with a party to take a step back. Our primary, the democratic primary is completely open primary, which means anyone can vote in our primary at a democr-. Rat a green nonpartisan libertarian or a Republican. For that matter, they can only pick one ballot that they can certainly vote, you know or so we were already open to the voters. And so we thought, okay, what's open this up a little bit more to the candidates. And instead of creating these crazy three way races where there would be a democrat, but then also progressive who is registered as an enter, you and for whatever their reason for whatever the reason they did not want to switch to a d. some of them Celtic was not true to their character who they really were. And so they kind of were left without an infrastructure to help them support groups to get elected. And so we said, hey, let's let's open it up. Let's let these folks running our primary. And if the Democrats and the folks who run who vote in that primary feel like this is who we want to represent us, regardless of what the the letter is behind their name, then that's who should represent us. And so we put that forward and the state appealed it. We said, no, you can't do that. And so we took it to court and we won. And then the state appealed again, and we took it to court and we won. And then the state appealed it again. And we took it to court and we won at the Alaska supreme court. Then they said, we're not sure what you're doing. We believe that you have the the freedom of sociation in the fats how you choose to do it, then that's how you choose to do it. So this election coming up in November. We'll be the very first opportunity that we have to do to do that kind of thing. And in fact, our candidates for the house representatives the federal at least Galvin is running in that exact -sition. She ran not of democrat, but rather as partisan and one handily across the state by Democrats and people running voting in our primary to represent us. And that's where we're going forward as what was a number of our candidates at both the state house and Senate level. And of course, Alaska is the only state in the country. Currently that has an independent governor which is very unusual and he again is it's that's an even more interesting situation because his Lieutenant governor is. Ah democrat, and kind of the way that that happened was Byron Melot was was the democratic candidates for governor and Bill Walker was running as a kind of a non partisan or independent rather. And we realized that that at the point neither one of them was going to win and we were gonna have Sean Parnell who among other things said, we're not going to expand Medicaid and war, and he was he was a hard core conservative. And so there is an opportunity kind of small window after the primary wants it certified where a state party and only if you're in a party has the opportunity to do a switch. And so- Byron came to us and said, this is I wanna combine here. And so what we did is we withdrew Byrom and our Lieutenant governor candidates and Bill Walker withdrew his. Lieutenant governor and then replaced his Lieutenant governor with our governor candidate and they ran on a ticket and one. That's wild. Yeah, it was well, and we were able to expand Medicaid, which is great. Now, fast forward twenty eighteen. And unfortunately the Walker and Byran Melot they had announced that they were going to run in our primary because we went through this whole scenario with the supreme court, right? So that that could happen. And so they came to our convention and they said, yes, we're going to run in the primary was very exciting, and then our former US Senator Mark baggage decided to go into the race. And so the locker felt like he couldn't beat him. And so he did not run in our primary. And so now we are left with a three way race being Mark baggage as the democratic candidate Mike Dunleavy who is to burst super right wing conservative as a Republican, and then in as we. Call it a petition candidate. In other words, they had to get signatures is Bill Walker, and then you also have this weird thing going on in the Alaska house with, I believe the Republicans technically have a majority, but don't actually have control. So what we have? Yes, exactly. We have in our in our house Representative. We have what we call a non par a bipartisan coalition essentially. And so we have, Yep, slightly a minority number of Democrats. Currently, although we believe we will change that in November and to independence as we're gonna call them on this call non-partisans and then three Republicans and together they combined to be the majority. So it's a bipartisan coalition. We did this in the Senate about a decade ago and it was very, very effective. Again, it was the same kind of numbers, but it works really, really well, and it's a way that we actually got things done in the state. People are willing to work across the aisle. I think it might just be that we come from this incredibly small population. I mean, we are geographically. The largest state a lot. Yeah, exactly. But we are as a population of smallest, and so are you know, no matter where you go, you know, somebody's cousin. So I think part of it is, is our our people when they go down to Juno when they're in our capital and they're working together, I think they perceive each other as perhaps people a little more less just as party labels. And I think you know that that's the way that we do it. And so we Rabl to to get that coalition together, which is very, very exciting. And as a result, when we flipped the the house leadership, we first of all we put in the first Alaskan native ever to be the speaker of the house, which is extremely exciting, Bryce edge men, and we were the only state in the country in the sixteen election to to flip a chamber and go for Trump. So that was pretty exciting. Exciting where where we're trying to work a little bit out of the box. The over said, quote, but so you talked about this enormous size of the state. What kind of challenges does that present to political organizing? Both for candidates, but also then for the party. Well, let's start with the candidates. So for example, I was travelling out in the rural Lasca this last week and to get from, let's say, Bethel to good news bay, which is not that far geographically, it's an hour flight. There's no roads right or you. You cannot go from village to village to village village in a car. You can sometimes do it on a four Wheeler in the summer, but the tundra is very wet and that's not an easy thing. It's not like it's a straight line and you can do some travel via boat to get from community community in the summer, and but primarily the way that you would have to get from village to village to village is by airplane, and that is incredibly expensive. Also to get from some of those three other you. Have to come to Anchorage and then fly back which is been more crazy. So to try and just get what we call, you know, boots on the ground is very difficult. So we really have to rely on folks within communities to to do that work. And we just continue to try and build the infrastructure through the party to help the candidates. Now, if you take, oh gosh, district six, for example. And that's we have a candidate, wonderful Alaskan native gentleman named Alexander's running up there. And that's not all the way up on the northern slope, but it's geographically larger than many, many, many states. And I believe it's the largest house district in United States. Geographically the sizes are just they're almost incomprehensible. What are some of the things that people are really concerned with right now? Some of the the issues in. Things that people are really agitated about or or really wanna make sure that they get the right people in office to try to solve. Well, I think it depends on on which kind of races you're talking about. I think certainly at the national level, I mean, not healthcare continues to be a huge, huge concern for people. As I said, we expanded that we did Medicaid expansion here, and the Affordable Care Act just wasn't has a Ford -able as we had thought appear on some things. And so making sure that people are not losing their healthcare, I think is have -solutely paramount in our candidates as as as we talked to them foward, probably immediately in the state by education, our graduation rates are low and we really, really need to to increase those. And then our violence, the violence against women in Alaska are are statistics are off the chart. You know, there's some things you just don't want to be number one in, and we are definitely there that comes with a combination of well of lack of. Of police powers out in the villages. And a lot of other things, we need a lot more treatment of mental health to to help folks get through that both as victims of such things, but also just in general, are mental health is is terrible. As far as treatment goes, and this kind of connects back with what we're talking about about our vast differences to to try and get to to get help very difficult when you have to get on a plane. I was on a plane with the woman who has cancers the other day and she had to get. So she had to get on a four Wheeler and get to the airport. And when I say airport, a landing strip, and then she had have somebody come with her and then they had to get on a plane and they had to fly to Bethel for an hour and a half. And then they had to stay overnight just to get treatment so that she can then get back on an airplane and fly back home. And that's just for basic treatments when she starts getting into some of the more intensive treatments that involves them another flight to Anchorage for many days. So the distances affect us in a multitude of ways. Even -cation. Imagine that your imagine that your daughter is a high school volleyball player. If she's gonna play volleyball against another high school, she's. Going to get on a plane every time or somebody's gonna fly her. Yeah, that's that's wild to imagine and costly. Yeah, there other things that you wanna make sure that people know about Alaska. Well, I want people to know that we are not a bright red conservative state. We are definitely a purple state, and we are continuing to shift from one from one to the other. Let me give you an example. Wassot Alaska as we discussed, which we know is very, very, read historically community. Well, in the region, there are school board in by that. I mean that region is the school board region. We've always been able to elect people kind of cross district. So if you were in a region, you could vote for a school board member kind of no matter where you were didn't matter. Well, that was changed. And so it was locked in geographically. So. We had a school board candidate five-time school board candidate long-term loud and proud, progressive democrat who was running. And so she had only run in that little narrow area that little narrow area of wasa and she won and she beat the pants off of her opposition and just goes to show. I think that that our area is willing and almost open to electing progressive. The other thing is, you know, our Berle municipal elections across the state. We had last couple of weeks ago. We overwhelmingly supported women and that I think is really important. And I think it's gonna show a trend not just here but nationwide. And so we're very excited to be on the forefront of that and hope. To continue that trend by electing among others. We Scallon as our next congresswoman young in the the recent polls look pretty good for lease. Yeah. Yeah. Four point, four points came out yesterday difference in that's phenomenal. And her opponents is we, we really, really wanna throw him a retirement party. He's been in office very long time over forty years, and I listened to him in a meeting of years ago, stand up and proudly tell everyone that he's never touched a computer in his life and how someone that's that disconnected. But the one thing I will say about him as and I've said it for a while is that he was Trump before. There was Trump and we need to, we need to get, we need to get rid of those folks and put in people who are modern thinkers will listeners should stay tuned for an interview with lease Galvin who is fantastic and with list Neider who is running in the state house, and she is also fantastic and I and I will if I'm allowed to put in a plug sure that we are as a set of very small stages. I talked to chairs and other states, and I hear their budgets and I might years my blown. So if you wanna make a re. Real difference with a small donation. Our numbers are very small here and the Alaska Democratic Party Alaska, Dem's dot org would love your five dollar donation anytime. Excellent. We'll QC thank you so much for speaking with meals goes just fascinating and it's one of the places I really want to try to get too soon. So. And so when coming. Long flight with my kids, but. I think they'd love it. I everyone this is Kelly with two broads talking politics. I'm here in this segment with at least Galvin who's running for the at large US congress seat in Alaska, highly. I Kelly. Yeah, we're one of the few states where our state is the the district. You need to remember. So can you give us a little bit of background on an who you are and what you've done before now and then why you're running for congress? Yeah. Well, my family came up working in World War Two serving to Alaska back in the early forties before Alaska was even a state. I'm third generation Alaskan, and I've sent a, you know, my whole life considering how we can make sure Alaska stronger and and a better place for the next generation. And and it really does come down to leadership over the last five years or so. I've been doing some work growing group called great Alaska schools to advocate for public education for each and every child to have a quality public education. And that's certainly slipped from being on the front burner of of our decision making by our policy makers. And so I grew group from about. Forty two, four thousand statewide and worked really hard to help ensure that we're getting that what we need in terms of an adequate and predictable funding stream and just pulling people together. And so in that work, I worked in the capital in the state of Alaska Juneau along with in DC to to do that advocacy work. And it became really clear to me that until we change out some of the people to better reflect our values as Alaskans, we are just not going to get where we need to go. And so with all of that and I joined a group, all Alaska women ascend, and it gave me the courage the by needed to step up and run for congress. All right. And so I think my biggest question for you is, how do you campaign in a district like this? This is not just the largest. Congressional district in the country, but the largest by like orders of magnitude. Right. What tell you what you get used to things like very small plane, big plane, small planes boats and every size boat I've been on and then RV. And then when you have a really long trip and you want to save some money, it's my my Preez but tell you what? It's been a great adventure. It is state. I don't. I assume that you're have some understanding that it's twice the size of Texas and then and and more importantly, it's not just that the state is so big that people are living all over the state. And if you we're still seven hundred thousand people, but we have clusters of three thousand people in Nome or you know, five thousand people in Kodiak one of are over a thousand island. So it's really important that we recognize that if we're going to represent them, we need to be there. We need to be listening to. Their stories and their challenges and celebrating with them where they are strong and how they are strong. So I've been really fortunate to have this opportunity to meet with some of the most incredibly strong vibrant people. I I've ever met in my life and fantastic and I can't wait to serve them. Gonna be amazing. I saw at some point on Facebook that instead of going door to door, you were going tent to tent. Oh, yeah. So in the summertime in Alaska, we all get outside. They're not only do people leave the cities to go out to berry, pick and fish and do things like that. Most of them are, you know, we have some of us have RV's and a lot of us have tents. I, we tent camp every summer with our four kids. It's just something that we do. And so when I without in hope, for example, community pretty small community mostly centered. It used to be mining and now it's mostly tourism. Well, we go a lot of families go out there and bury pick. And so I was out there meeting with their at their community center and it's a community of a hundred did less than two hundred people, but a lot of people were out camping, probably tripled the size of the community that summer anyhow, I'm so I did go tend to ten because I knew Alaskans. Were there camping and and if you wanna talk. To him. You need to go wherever wherever they are. I also have been too quick in the pasta what up and down river in right outside of Bethel, which is a nother hub, kind of in the interior of Alaska. And again, if you wanna talk to them, then you need to go to their fish camps and their case, they, they have camps, all of the rivers in the summertime, and they grow and they catch their fish. They hanging up and they make sure that they have enough for the winter. So in this case, I was able to do the same sort of visiting, unfortunately, the fish camps for more like, go sounds at this time because the fish weren't running. We have a lot of issues around climate change. Anyhow, it gave me an opportunity though to go the small communities and hear from them about their worries about that. And I'm really excited that I can get myself to these places of because it's it's an all in campaign. We have now champions in little communities like that. We have more than seven hundred fifty volunteers and it's really been a race like no other. What are some of the things are hearing from people as you go around and talk to them? What are the issues that they're really concerned with? It depends on where I travel, but the overarching issues kind of the broad ones are public safety. People are are worried for themselves. It's not that so much deep violence as much as people who are hurting a lot of opioid epidemic, issues that are causing theft and people to feel unsafe and care is another one. That's been huge everywhere. Small business large business. It's been a big deal when it comes to our economy growing or not growing. It's I've packed the number one enemy to any new jobs is healthcare at something that really need to get ourselves. Around I, I have been meeting people telling me the most upsetting story. I have met with elders who not only have Medicare and and mental, and even arma, pseudo coal insurance plan, but they still can't afford their pharmaceuticals because they have to pay more than four hundred dollars a month for that. I mean, it's just been incredible in Alaska where unique. We have really high healthcare costs that aren't just the highest in the nation. They're the highest in the world per capita. So part of that is the new one of having such a small population spread out. Some of it is that we don't have enough care providers. There's not a lot of competition. So anyway, Healthcare's been really big. One that I've heard about and jobs is another one we have more than twice the unemployment than the lower forty eight in Alaska. And in fact, in some regions, it's three times. I know in Bethel at almost fifteen percent. So there's a lot of need for us to come up with ways for are you to see a way to have a self sustaining life sue? You are the mother of four kids, and we are very big proponents of having more moms in congress. So I wondered if you could talk about sort of that the perspective that that gives you having raised kids. I think your youngest just went off to college and you know what, what you think that perspective brings when you get to congress? Yeah. So it rings everything. Anybody who is a mom or as ever had a mom gets it that they have to keep a lot of pieces together. And also they need to know how to get things done, no matter what is what they're presented with. So there's a sense of resiliency that we understand also offensive of resourcefulness that we know really comes with motherhood, and I'm excited to be able to. Extend those skills beyond my degree is into lyrical science, but I'll tell you what I mean, I have four kids might meet. All of them are completely different, and I'm back. My daughter is in is in the room right now, and and I think it's important for us to know that this campaign has been one of those cases where I'm able to share the difference between myself and my opponent who served for just about half a century. He's eighty five and I don't know that he remembers what it's like to walk your child to school to really be a part of the community and what the price of milk is everywhere. I think it's important that we have somebody that's really connected to growing children here recently and to wanting to have that next generation have their jobs in their own community and stay in their community to me family staying together is everything absolutely everything. And I think. That Alaskans are appreciating having a candidate who values that. And so I'm really excited to be able to to be that leader that can Gill to Washington DC and say, hey, this is what it's like for families, and they need to know what it's like to be in the family. I'm running. My whole campaign is with family. People see that I am still sticking with them all the time, and they really like that. It's been a really fun adventure for all. And I think in serving that will be what people will be most connected to because they know that I'm a real person that I get it. I loved it on your website, each of your four children has their little bio up and you know why they support you. I think that that to me, you know, as a mother, it really makes me feel connected like like, yeah, like like a real person who gets it who understand. What with this life has like, well, it's own timidly. We have one thing we can do in life, and that's make sure that we leave this place with the next generation seeing offense that it's still an order that they, they've been given the skills and the not just the critical thinking skills, but the kindness skills, the ability to work together skill that it's going to take to keep on for the next hundreds of generations. And I'm really excited that I'm able to bring that kind of thinking to the table and make sure that our policy making fix that. And I appreciate that you did look at the website. I'm I'm proud of my four kids. Of course, we've been through ups and downs, you know, I raised agers, I get it. I also had three year olds, and I know what that's like. I nine nurse for of them. I know it. That's like it. It's one of those things where again, I think it makes a difference that. We have a leader who's of the people, someone who's been around that block and fill with the energy and enthusiasm to bring that that understanding on history of that to the table. Is there anything else that you'd like to make sure that we talked about. Our politics are different Alaskan. I wanna share just a little bit about that. Our Sates is fifty, six percents, independent fifteen percent democrat, twenty five percent Republican, and then the rest are other things including green party libertarian, and even secession party. You know, just sort of all kinds of different pieces where we're really independent in that way. So and that's rough figures. But it's pretty much about about that. And I'm independent. I have been for over a decade and my values allied. I'm very grateful that the Democratic Party in Alaska has sued to open the ballot in the primary and Iran in it. I won handily. I think that it's speaks to Alaskan that I am one who is willing to. Put my name out there early and put myself out there early, just who I am and I have. I stuck with that. A lot of people ask, well, why didn't you change your party giving that? And because that's not who I am. I really believe we need to drop partisan battles to get things done, and that's really resonating well throughout the state, everybody is so grateful to know that I'm looking at running a positive campaign, not just a positive campaign, but when I'm in office, people are going to hear about the wonderful Alaska that I know the wonderful Alaskans that I know who can pull together and talk about an issue and resolve things like nobody else. And I don't know if it's because you know we live in such a unique state with so many unique challenges when it comes to not just weather, but the animals that we live with all of the things that we've been. Able to pull together around, but it's really important. I think that we use that as a model for the rest of the nation on and I look forward to to being that sort of a leader. I, I'm excited about what I'm seeing in the Senate where we have women gather monthly, no matter what their party affiliation. They put things on the table. They find ways to talk about it and get things done. I think that's something that would be exciting for me to help work within the house as well. I know we have, I think, nineteen point, two percent women in the house and the house has somewhere around five hundred, right? So it's going to be a lot, but do we can do a lot if we can gather women together and others with like minded thinking that it's time for us to find what we have in common and start working on that, simply I loved that I've been advocating for mums caucus in congress. Love that. Right? And it's funny in Alaska, it's well known not only urban but also enroll Alaska. It's some moms who get things done, and that's not to belittle, you know others. But I will say we when push comes to shove, we just know how to get it done soon. If our listeners would like to help out your campaign, how can they do that? Oh, gosh. I'm so glad you asked that. Yeah, those two. Remember I said earlier, we're running the incredible campaign that really feels more like a movement because there have been so many involved in different ways. Well, there's, of course go to the website, it's least for Alaska dot com. And that's really a good spot to go. And then there's also another place where you can click on. I wanna help or volunteer, and you can volunteer from anywhere any any part of Alaska or any part of the nation. You can make calls and getting gauged. And that's a really fun and easy way. It's very well designed to make it easy. And then there's also, of course helping us get word out. We aren't. We know this is going to be a very, very close race. In fact, he had fifty point three percent of the vote last time two years ago in a declining trend. If the point three and we're looking at two candidates on the ballot, this is something that a lot of our nation's raiders and other people haven't really appreciated is the nuance of this race. Number one, I'm an independent for the first time ever who's run through the democratic primary and number two, they're only two names on the ballot, which has not been the case, many of the other, in fact in and around a decade. And number three, the fact that he's in a declining trend at fifty point three last time. So it's going to be very close and any bit of help. We'll help us. We need to particularly get our name out to the undecided. We know that when they hear just a couple of sentences about me, they flip easily. So we've been putting a lot of effort into helping people understand that we need some help getting word out, not only by way of people making phone calls, but also mass media and. That's going to take money. And so I also encourage people to think about helping us get word out through radio through television and through digital, and and those take a lot of money. Although we're one of the least expensive races in the nation tip. So that's exciting too, but we still have a ways to go to get enough and and it's a grassroots campaign. I'm not taking a dime of corporate pack money, not a dime because I really believe that it's time to bring politics back to of the people. And I think of all the messaging Alaskans are hearing. That's the one that resonates most, but we need everybody's help with that to make it up the people. So I encourage people to help us not only with their time but with their treasure. That's really what it's gonna take. We know, like I said, are pulling says, we can win this thing. Once they hear a little bit about me, we get there and we've also had. Had some huge opportunities with groups who have weighed in that have never weighed in against my opponent. And that's exciting. So groups like the NEA in the primary for the first time ever they endorsed me. Planned Parenthood is endorsed me, labor. I have, I think more than half of labor unions who have endorsed me and and they have a lot of a lot of members in Alaska. I think we're the one of the highest per capita membership in union. So that's been really exciting to have their support as well. And in many of them have endorsed on young in the past because he has done some things in the past. But lately he has not been there for the people of Alaska. And so anyhow, it's it's just been super exciting to see so many groups coming in and I'm asking for others to join them because that's what it's going to take. It's going to be that close. Keep your mind. On the number fifty point three and no, we can do this, but just a little more push. Excellent. And we'll put a link your website up on our website as well. Yeah, and I just wanted to add one more thing if I could. A lot of people think that, oh, a fisa grassroots campaign that must mean that you're not really going to be able to do it because you're running against some guy who's been there for forty five years. Well, I just want the whole world to know this is not a grassroots campaign like anybody's ever seen before we're talking about a campaign that has raised over a million dollars from people with the average donation less than twenty dollars. I mean, people are weighing in on this one in ways that had never been seen in Alaska. I'm not sure about the rest of the United States, but we're really excited because we're not typically like that. You know, we've had this guy doing the same old thing, getting his money from people from outside of Alaska. In fact, in this. Race. We already know by looking at the numbers that more half of his money is from packs and of his money. That's from people. The people looking at the f. e. c. more than two-thirds of the people who have given to him live outside of Alaska. And that's pretty telling ours is flipped. We have the more Jordi from Alaskans, and we're excited about that. And we're excited to have others help in as well, but we're just we know that this is the time this is a, we're in a whole different place. And of course I'm in a completely different campaign. People are are are so excited to see a candidate that has not. It isn't a career politician, it's of the people. So the idea that I'm not taking a dime of corporate pack money. Like I say, it has been to me the most important message that the people of Alaska and others can hear that. I'm not in anybody's pocket. I'm in the people. Pocket. Anyway, I just gonna leave you with that and tell you I'm so grateful for you calling and letting me be a part of this. I can't thank you so much. I know your campaign schedules quite busy, so thanks so much for speaking with me and I'm really excited about your race. Thank you, really appreciate it. Nice meeting you take care. You too. I am here in this segment with Liz Snyder who is running for the Alaska house of representatives in district twenty seven highlights. Hi, are Harry. Thanks for having me. Yeah, thanks for joining me all the way from Alaska. So maybe to start, you could just give us a little bit of background about who you are and why you decided to run for the Alaska house. Sure. Who am I am an educator. I'm a scientist a community organizer, but also a wife and mom, my two favorite jobs, you know, I decided to run because it kind of felt like it was time to put up or shut up is one way to look at it. And you know, I've got two young boys, five and seven, and I really want to set a good example for them. I wanna do right by them and you know Alaskan been so good to us. I feel like we're in a space to give back. So here I am. All right. And you are an educator, and can you talk a little bit about what sort of education you workin. Sure, sure. So my background in terms of my own education is an environmental health and so water science, and I have been working as a faculty member at the university of Alaska Anchorage for about ten years now, and we are a master of public health program, and we are very focused on public health practice. So really working with communities in communities on public health challenges that we identified together and we addressed together, and that's really given me an opportunity to travel all across the state all the way as far north as you can go to barrow out to Nome down to Cordova and many communities, both urban and rural in between, and that's the forwarded media per to meet so many different Alaskans and kinda learn more about. The diversity of our hopes and our dreams aspirations, but also our challenges. And I think that is going to be a really helpful perspective if and when I get to the legislature, yes, sue is district twenty seven in or near Anchorage? It is. So it is in east Anchorage. We have a couple of districts over in this area. I could describe the cross streets. I don't know how useful. To some of our, our listeners outside of Alaska. But we're, we're very urban district. We are what someone might nicely call an up and coming to strict and we're pretty dense. Most of my district on like many others in the state is walkable. So I've been able to do a lot of door knocking just putting in the shoe leather, which has been great. And so even though this is an urban district, and even though Alaska is actually not nearly as red as people might think there's an incumbent Republican in this district currently, that is correct. He has been in his seat since twenty eleven, and in recent races though it's been pretty close. So we have every reason to be optimistic since we're pairing it with a lot of hard work. The last person who ran against him in the last Eichel I may not get the exact number right though. Something in the neighborhood about hundred and fifty votes was the difference. Since we need something in the neighborhood of four thousand something to win. So we are really focused, I think, as I mentioned before on the door to door, making sure I'm getting the chance to talk with the vast majority of our voters here in our district and putting in that these time and making sure they know who the new gal is on the scene sewage. You're talking all of these people. What are the kinds of things that they're concerned with? What are they tuck knew about? Sure. It's been pretty interesting and validating on some level. I have to say the reasons that inspired me to run some specific issues are the same things. I'm hearing at the doors and it's not entirely unique to our district. This is these are some things that we have the state are dealing with and have been dealing with for some time. So on the top, our our budget, we do have a pretty big budget gap going to have to get creative and how we're going to fill that gap. We hear a lot about crime in public safety. We've been experiencing. Increases in crime in recent years across the board. And we do have a recent piece of crime legislation that was pretty sweeping, took some pretty new ideas. Some quota, innovative approaches trying to do with our high recidivism rates of looking like, we're gonna need to even build a new penitentiary at the cost of millions and millions of dollars. And then the third one being education, we are not doing so great when it comes to student learning outcome, that's compared to other states in the US and didn't used to be that way. And it doesn't need to be that way. So that is also something weighing heavily on the minds, particularly of parents and grandparents here in Alaska. So I was looking rape before we got onto tuck at the the makeup of the Alaska house right now. And I was not to realize that the Democrats actually had control in a little bit of variety, weird kind of way that I guess there were more Republicans, but the Democrats had formed a coalition. With some independence and some Republicans. That's not at all what I think people would expect of from Alaska. No. And I think actually had some really positive impacts this last session. So yes, you're right. We do have a bipartisan coalition. We do have a handful of legislators on the house side that are not part of that coalition, but there is a majority and that has been very beneficial to getting some important pieces of legislation through getting our budget through making sure we're funding education. We got a pretty exciting healthcare Bill through this past session that the same is not true in terms of the makeup on on the Senate side. Yeah, into, you know, I think a lot of people might look at races in Alaska think, oh, you know why bother. There's probably so many Republicans and that's clearly not true in the house. It seems like it's really important to support the Democrats who are running against incumbent Republicans. Was a coalition made up of Democrats, Republicans and independent. Seems like it could you know, theoretically fall apart or one or two of those Republican could lose. So you know, I think that makes it all the more important for racist like yours to really base full. You're you're absolutely right. And that is certainly the conversation that we are having at the doors that different events and functions. We want to preserve this bipartisan coalition because it really does. It promotes compromise. It promotes collaboration from it's getting done, and we would like to protect that me winning this district here in district twenty seven would be an additional step in in that direction and preserving that coalition. One of the things that I think is of course, so unique about Alaska in a come up a little bit on your website and your Facebook page is the PF d. so can you tiles through a little bit with the p of d is and then you know what. Sort of thing you'd like to see happen with that? Sure. I'll give the real shorthand summary of of the PSD or the permanent fund dividend. It's a uniquely Alaskan thing, and it's actually something that Alaskans are pretty darn proud of. It was a really forward thinking mechanism that was put into place decades ago to make sure that income that we were generating. The state from oil industry was being sucked away and that we were set up for maybe Rufford as a head and what happens with that fun. The permanent fund is we also earn interest on that fund and each year Alaskan to have been in the state at least a year and have maintained residency receive a payout or a PS d that's called shorthand each year. And it's it's a function of a particular formula that we work off of. And so it does very somewhat from year to year corresponding to past years of oil prices and that. Fund fate of that fund is definitely a topic of conversation. It is a lot every year, but in particular this year because we are still dealing with the budget gap, but we recognize that the PSE it's important to Alaskan. The cost of living appear is quite a bit higher than other places. This is a specially true for rural Alaska where the cost of food and fuel and energy is exceptionally high. So we do have families who rely on this every year, and it is an annual injection of funding into our local businesses into our local economy. So much of our Alaska economy relies on that injection of local funds every year there seems to be some discussions around what should be done with the PF d and if it should sort of remain in this fluctuating state and you know what? What are your thoughts about what should happen with it? Sure, sure. And different people will tell you different things. Some folks on the other end of the political spectrum are very, very protective and very vocal about having the highest PF de that current equation calculates most recently, it was looking like three thousand dollars, and so that's one end of the spectrum. But in my mind, the mass just does not add up now that we have falling revenue due to drop in oil prices. In my mind, that is not responsible. I would love for us for families to receive the highest PFC we can afford. But what is also now on the table, particularly as of last session is a discussion of using a portion of the interest that is earned off of that permanent fund to fund government services, essential government services. So drawing sustainably from the fun. So it's replenished every year based on its interest earnings. But then we use some of those funds to support things like education. And like public safety and infrastructure development. So that is a big focal point of conversation in this particular elections. Like does the the makeup of the current state legislature look like in terms of men and women in terms of, you know, is this the kind of role that a lot of young parents go into or is it more people who are older and retired from other positions? What is that look like in the current house and Senate shame on me, I do not have the numbers pertaining to bend verses women at the on the tip of my tongue. I have heard folks talking about it, and I believe if we elect all the women that are running this go around, we'll we'll be hitting a pretty big milestone, but with respect to younger candidates and candidates with young families, we are seeing a new wave within recent years. Absolutely. I'm seeing that with some of my other fellow. Candidates in other districts, and we we, we have a lot of backchannel conversations around the challenge, challenging associated with campaigning and and raising young children. But we're trying to be very intentional with making that possible and sharing with the broader public. However, making that happen, because if we're going to be making decisions in the legislature that affect young families or affects younger voters, who may seem to be having families or even grandparents who are helping families, we need that representation in the legislature. So I know and I am not alone in this, but things simple is hosting event fundraisers, where childcare's provided that is a standard thing for us. If we're having open houses or community listening sessions, trying really hard to do it at different times of day in different places. Recognizing that not everybody works the same schedule that you may need to bring your children, and that's great. I bring my boys. Everywhere that I possibly can partly because I need to sometimes and partly because I feel like I want to show by my own actions, but that's something that we need to just incorporate into politics if we wanna see folks in my age bracket or or younger running for these types of positions. And then we've been paying attention to some national headlines around the use of campaign funds for child care because you are campaigning, you do need support and that arena. And we've made some inquiries on the state level on that subject. And that's something that our campaign is also doing about, yeah, picture on your Facebook page. I think of your younger son sect out on the couch because he'd been out missing with you. Yes, that would probably deacon. He is my go-to wing, man. He is always up for a door knocking session for sure. That's great. I, yeah, I think my my four year old might go along with that. My seven year old would probably just like argue politics with people's outbreak. Oh, yeah. My older one us also seven. It was cool the first two times and now he's like, oh, thanks, mom. So tell me about this gorgeous tattoo that you have. Oh, gosh, so I've got two of them on my four on, you know, we've just decided to be forward about that or not. No, no long sleeves for me, this may and there are there's two on the forearm, right? The one is botanical illustration of an orange. I was born and raised in Florida originally lived overseas for several years, but that's where much of my family still is. So that's, that's my shout out to my home state. And then on the other side, which is more prominent on some of the photos is a Lincoln berry or a low Bush cranberry and that's something that you find in many places in Alaska. It's my favorite berry in Alaska and that is in recognition of my adopted state. That's beautiful. And it ties in than to with your interest in food and food policy. Can you talk. A little bit about that. It does. It does. So my personal passion originally was food and gardening, and when I was still attending school, we started some local chapters focused on advocating for local food businesses and production. And then upon arriving in Alaska, ten years ago, I shortly thereafter got pulled into some food research, looking at food systems of Alaska challenges and opportunities. And I realized that I was very interested in that topic on a professional level and turns out there a growing number of students that were interested in that topic masters students. So I was able to shift my my research focus and some of my teaching and community work to Alaska food system. There's certain polar food systems. And now I guess I've served on the Alaska food policy council board for the past six years. For those most recently, I've been co chair and in that role along with my role as a faculty member, we work on everything from advocating for local food policies to increase local food production and processing in value added activities to making sure that we have the infrastructure to store and process and ship are are locally produced foods all the way to making sure we have policies in place to help lower income families, access nutritious, affordable foods. And then of course, there's these issues around food safety and emergency preparedness. We have a major port here in Anchorage, for example, and it is fallen into disrepair, and that is also something else that as a legislator, I'd be turning my attention to because we import about ninety five percent of our food up here in Alaska. We've got about three days worth of food on our shelves. Should the import be disrupted. And so we need to get on that pretty quick and make sure that this is a world class port that can support us today and that we're prepared for growing economy tomorrow. Still anything else that you'd like to make sure we talked about? We touched on education briefly and I and I do want to highlight that. I would imagine if you spoke with the lease Galvin she had a lot to say about education. I think she and I are probably on the same page on most things. I'm I'm very keen to invest in that across the spectrum, everything from pre k. studies show the early investment there is so worth it. And we see improved outcomes on down the line and older students. We just have to be patient and wait for the good to come out of the early investments k. through twelve, of course, continued support on the kids side. We need to make sure classroom sizes are not too large that students, regardless of how they learn, of course, have access to the resources that they need. And if you talk to. Teachers, they do get frustrated. You may have already heard that. We had a history of pink slipping teachers at the end of the year because we haven't passed a budget. And that is certainly no way to keep dedicated quality teachers in our school system. In fact, we have teachers back to work this year without a contract because they've not come to an agreement and contract and they're still back to work. So those things have got, we've got, we have to stop that. We were excited that we Ford funded education for two years this past session, and that's great. But frankly, that's not something to celebrate. That's that should just be par for the course, and we need to be talking about what we can do to to excel. Then lastly, highlighting, we have a great university system here, but it can do so much more potential, so great particular around circum polar issues and then vocational training. I would love to see it increases vocational training. So we're really preparing a diverse workforce is where figuring out who Alaska one to be, who we should be in the next five and fifty years. Is our listeners would like to help support your campaign? How can they do that? Yes, I should say we, I am proud to say we have maxed out on out of state donations. There is a limit on that here in Alaska races. But if you are in state and would like to donate would be very appreciative and you can find more at elect Liz Snyder dot com and you can always follow me on Facebook. All right, excellent. Will Liz. Thanks so much for talking with me. This has been really fun and I am so excited to learn more about Alaska and that it's actually not nearly as Republicans. I thought it was. Come visit Kelley. I'd love to show you around to let us know if you come up here. I will let you know. I mean you gotta five your year seven-year-old boy. I can bring my boys in rate at home. Fantastic. We'll be ready. All right. Well, thank you so much, Liz. Thank you. Kelly. Have a great day. Thanks for listening to to broads talking. Politics are theme song is called, are you listening off of the album elephants shaped trees by the band EMU Newry and we're using it with permission of the band, our logo and other original artwork is by Matthew Westlund and was created for use by this podcast.