ELECTION 2018: Meet the candidates running for State House District 14

Monday, July 30, 2018 - 12:02
  • Eugene Harnett, Republican
  • Jamie Allard, Republican
  • Joe Hackenmueller, nonpartisan running in Democratic primary
  • Kelly Merrick, Republican

There are four candidates running for the Alaska State House seat from District 14: Republicans Jamie Allard, Eugene Harnett and Kelly Merrick, along with nonpartisan candidate Joe Hackenmueller, who is running in the Democratic primary. The candidates are hoping to replace Rep. Lora Reinbold, who is running in the Republican primary for the State Senate District G seat.

For more, see the answers from candidates for State Senate Seat G, State House District 12 and State House District 13.

Here are questions and answers posed by the Star to the four people running for the District 14 seat:

House District 14

Republican Primary Candidates

Name: Jamie Allard

Age: 47

Hometown: Eagle River, Alaska

Occupation: Resigned from federal employment to run for office.

Family: 2 beautiful daughters Brooke-Lynne 13, Madison 11, and my supportive husband Dan married 21 years retired Special Forces Veteran

What qualities make you the best candidate for the office you seek?

I’m a conservative. I’m just like my neighbor the mom down the street. I’m a veteran with conservative values and understand what families in our community need. our military families need. I can relate to everyday economic, educational, safety and security challenges. In the Army, I learned skills I never could have learned in school. The Army provided me with opportunities to demonstrate my leadership abilities. My leadership abilities will help me influence and motivate fellow legislators to implement my conservative agenda. A conservative agenda will create better economic opportunities for Eagle River and its residence.

What (if anything) should be done to help improve the Alaska economy?

Revitalize Eagle River’s economy by reducing state and local regulatory restrictions on business and their associated burden. Reducing regulatory burdens will keep business revenues and individual incomes within their own control for future investment. Lastly, we need to take advantage of our natural resources here in Alaska. Our wildlife is for all Alaskans, we need to sustain the resource for future generations and our economic prosperity. I support responsible development of our Alaskan mining and oil industries, by reducing regulatory obstructions to economic growth.

What (if anything) should the Legislature do to reduce crime in Alaska?

A great start would be to repeal SB 91.

SB 91’s “Catch and Release” program promotes continued criminal activity. We need to create a safe and secure community. We need to support an environment allowing law enforcement and emergency services to perform their duties of protecting and serving the residents and businesses of Eagle River.

Do you agree with the Legislature’s decision to cap this year’s Permanent Fund Dividend at $1,600 and use a portion of the Alaska Permanent Fund’s investment earnings for government services? Why or why not?

No. Gov. Walker’s SB 26 “landmark legislation” used the arbitrary wording “should” within the AS 43.23.005 (PFD). The PFD belongs to the people. My plan is to motivate fellow legislators to constitutionalize the PFD; protecting the PFD for the people and the Alaskan economy. Keeping the full PFD allows Alaskans to decide for themselves how to invest.

Name: Eugene Harnett

Age: 58

Place of birth: California

Hometown: Eagle River, since 1987

Occupation: Tech Company Owner, Partner with spouse in flower delivery service, former legislative aide in the Alaska Legislature to two state representatives and one senator, and a committee aide to the Joint Administrative Regulatory Review Committee

Family: Married 35 years to Yoshiko Harnett; raised five boys to adulthood here in Eagle River; went to every parent-teacher conference for each them; attended hundreds of CYSA soccer and Chugiak and Eagle River High Schools sports games; now, a grandparent.

Previous public office held: None / Never ran for office

What qualities make you the best candidate for the office you seek?

I’m a listener. I make decisions based on seeking the greatest amount of public good, for the largest number of citizens, for the longest period of time. I’m committed to Eagle River and will protect our family and community values here. Optimism drives me. And my values. The family is a bedrock value for me; entrepreneurship is too, which includes business innovation and investment. Our “Last Frontier” is still rich in opportunities and prosperity. I have the guts to stand my ground and fight for my values. And last but not least, I am a leader as a business owner, and I’m also capable of working with others, both skill sets desperately needed in the Legislature.

What is the most important issue currently facing Alaska and how would you address the issue in the Legislature?

Our stalling, uninspiring economy. Alaska annual operating and capital budgets do not coincide with the incomes and momentum, or lack thereof, in the private sector. We simply can’t afford the cost of Alaska’s government based on Gov. Walker’s last four years in office. Our state budget has ballooned while business revenues declined. The state budget grew 15% this past year, while our state’s GDP remained stagnant in the bottom 10% of the nation. We are a rich state with great potential, from natural resources to tourism and arctic transportation corridors, yet the boom and bust cycle continues to affect our state budget. We must put in measures to stabilize our budget process, so despite economic slumps, Alaska can remain economically strong. That’s what I will fight to do and lead to accomplish.

What (if anything) should be done to help improve the Alaska economy?

We must invest in infrastructure that bring jobs and capital to Alaska. On a large level for example, we have no railroad to Nome, nor to Prudhoe Bay, nor one that connects us to the Lower 48. Likewise, we lack internet infrastructure. Alaska is positioned eight hours away from 90% of the world’s GDP, yet much of the world flies over us. Huge potential also lies in our natural resources. I believe in promoting economic innovation and responsible development to expand our “owner state” economy. Recruitment and retention of new and expanding businesses will yield more jobs and economic growth.

What (if anything) should the Legislature do to reduce crime in Alaska?

Three factors contributed to the perfect storm to make Alaska lead the nation in its crime rate. Those are 1) the recession, 2) drugs, and 3) SB91. Of course, we must stabilize our economy and curtail the influx of drugs in our state. Importantly though, we must repeal SB91 and replace it with solid reforms. SB91’s goal was to reduce the prison population, which it did by preventing judges from using their discretion and police from arresting criminals. That’s backwards. Public safety is one of the government’s primary job. We must reform our justice system, not by being soft on criminals but tough on them. If correction facilities are overcrowded, a new or leased facility trumps releasing offenders prematurely.

Do you agree with the Legislature’s decision to cap this year’s Permanent Fund Dividend at $1,600 and use a portion of the Alaska Permanent Fund’s investment earnings for government services? Why or why not?

The greatest public good is a stable economy. A stable economy helps us all by reducing crime, providing jobs and services, and creating a strong social net. A stable economy will prevent the current exodus of citizens leaving Alaska. The Legislature is responsible to pass a balanced budget and limit the use of our cash reserves. The solution must combine more cuts to the budget, leaving alone the PFD as much as possible, and using Permanent Fund earnings. The Dividend should not be used as a tool to barter votes, thus preventing legislators from making those tough decisions for the greatest public good.

Name: Kelly Merrick

Age: 42

Birthplace: Juneau

Hometown: Eagle River

Occupation: Homemaker

Family: Husband - Joey. Children - Hunter(12), Brody(11) & Roxie(8)

Previous public office held: Legislative Aide for Congressman Don Young.

What qualities make you the best candidate for the office you seek?

I share the values of my neighbors and voters in this district. We’re pro-family conservatives who honor the sanctity of life and want to protect our liberty from government intrusion. We also understand that Alaska faces a crime wave that calls for much stronger law enforcement, because everyone should feel safe in their homes.

What is the most important issue currently facing Alaska and how would you address the issue in the Legislature?

Crime. Too many of my neighbors have had their homes broken into or their cars stolen. The legislature’s “catch and release” policies are outrageous, and it’s time to restore law and order in our community.

What (if anything) should be done to help improve the Alaska economy?

I’m a strong supporter of resource development and infrastructure projects that will create more jobs for Alaskans. We also need to keep the hands of government officials out of our pocketbooks, by protecting the PFD.

What (if anything) should the Legislature do to reduce crime in Alaska?

Repeal SB 91, stop “catch and release” policies, get more cops and troopers on the street, and improve treatment for addiction.

Do you agree with the Legislature’s decision to cap this year’s Permanent Fund Dividend at $1,600 and use a portion of the Alaska Permanent Fund’s investment earnings for government services? Why or why not?

No. The PFD should be for Alaskans. We should not be draining the Permanent Fund.

Democratic Primary candidate

Joe Hackenmueller

Age: 59

Place of birth: Minneapolis MN

Hometown: Eagle River (since 1984)

Occupation: Retired (ARCO Alaska 9+ yrs, Anchorage School District 20+ yrs)

Family: Married, 3 children, 3 grandchildren

Previous public office held: None

What qualities make you the best candidate for the office you seek?

With the state still facing multi-billion dollar deficits each year, we need representatives in Juneau who are willing to set aside party politics and work together to develop a long range fiscal plan that will ensure the prosperity of Alaska. As a 34-year resident of Eagle River, I understand the diverse interests of this community. Having worked in both the oil industry and public education, I appreciate the challenges presented by shrinking budgets as well as the value added by responsible investment in both the public and private sectors. I am running as a nonpartisan candidate to provide a common sense, independent voice for the people of Eagle River.

What is the most important issue currently facing Alaska and how would you address the issue in the Legislature?

The single most important issue facing Alaska today is developing a sustainable fiscal plan. This will entail a comprehensive package of strategic cuts, improved operating efficiencies, new revenue sources, restructured oil taxes, and using Permanent Fund earnings to fund some portion of the budget. We cannot cut our way to prosperity, but we do need to adjust expenses to reflect the new reality of dramatically lower revenues. Exactly where additional reductions can be made will be an ongoing conversation with the residents to determine the level of services we are willing to fund. Even with significant cuts to the budget, it may be necessary to implement some form of new taxes. My goal is to ensure that everyone pays their fair share, that new revenues are used judiciously, and that structures are in place to prevent unwarranted escalations. Finally, it makes no sense to drain the Earnings Reserve or Constitutional Budget Reserve accounts while hoping for the next boom in oil prices or production. There is merit to using a portion of the Permanent Fund Earnings as a predictable revenue stream to fund a portion of the budget while still preserving dividend checks at a reasonable level.

What (if anything) should be done to help improve the Alaska economy?

We absolutely must focus on diversifying the economy. Alaska is a resource-rich state, and resource extraction will continue to play an important role in our economy. But we also have tremendous opportunities for expansion in the areas of tourism, renewable energy, high tech industry, and value added products. As the climate changes, we must be ready to capitalize on new opportunities in the fields of agri-bussiness and global commerce.

What (if anything) should the Legislature do to reduce crime in Alaska?

Crime throughout the state is inexorably linked to the issues of drug addiction, mental health, homelessness, unemployment, backlogs in the judicial system, and underfunding of education. We cannot solve the crime problem without concurrently addressing the underlying causes in a comprehensive fashion. An ounce of prevention is a worth of pound of cure.

Do you agree with the Legislature’s decision to cap this year’s Permanent Fund Dividend at $1,600 and use a portion of the Alaska Permanent Fund’s investment earnings for government services? Why or why not?

The use of Permanent Fund earnings needs to be part of a long-term, comprehensive, budget solution. However, I have serious concerns with the methodology used to tap into the Earnings Reserve fund. While SB 26 sets some limits on the amount of money that can be withdrawn from the fund each year, it fails to address the amount dedicated to the dividend. Rather, SB 26 gives future legislatures the discretionary authority to determine the size of your annual dividend, which could mean anything between zero and several thousand dollars. And in the absence of a comprehensive fiscal plan, reducing the dividend by any amount is the most regressive tax that could possibly be imposed on the residents of this state.

Facebook comments