Long-time ASD board member to run for District 14 seat

Thursday, March 10, 2016 - 10:28

A former three-term Anchorage School Board member announced her candidacy for the state house seat in District 14 currently held by Rep. Lora Reinbold at the March 2 Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce meeting.

The local grapevine was already plump with speculation that Crystal Kennedy of Eagle River would challenge Reinbold for the house seat.

Kennedy filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission on Feb. 25 – a move that allows the Republican to begin fundraising. She has yet to file with the state Division of Elections, but said she expects to do so later this month.

“I am running because I think we need a voice from Eagle River that has a place at the table in our state Legislature that represents our community in this bigger conversation regarding the fiscal situation our state is in,” Kennedy said in a phone interview with The Star. “I believe Eagle River deserves a seat at the table and that is not happening right now. It has nothing to do with Lora’s values but is due to the fact that she has chosen to remove herself.”

Kennedy is referencing the fact that Reinbold was removed from the Republican Caucus during the 2015 legislative session for voting against the operating budget. In the 2016 session, Reinbold has no committee positions but is relegated to working through sub-committees to voice her concerns and put forth legislation.

It’s a spot Reinbold contends she is currently effective in.

“Without wavering, I have kept the promises that I made to the people of Eagle River and I am upholding the principles of the Republican platform and even the principles of the majority caucus,” Reinbold said in a phone interview with The Star. “This session I have been working extremely hard to get this state on a better fiscal path.”

Reinbold referenced the nearly 50 amendments she has put forth this session. Each of the amendments, she said, represents budget cuts or changes to program that reduce state spending.

When asked if she was surprised regarding Kennedy’s candidacy, Reinbold quickly answered, “Yes. I believe I reflect the conservative values of Eagle River and am representing them very well.”

Indeed, the two candidates have significant similarities.

Both have strong ties to education issues.

Kennedy served three consecutive terms on the ASD board from 2003 to 2012 in which she voted against the usage of the new Common Core curriculum within the district – a move Reinbold supports in her vigilant opposition to the popular set of education standards developed by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers that numerous conservatives criticize for its realignment of academic standards.

Both claim fiscal conservative viewpoints.

Neither is in favor of new taxes such as a personal state income tax as some legislators have suggested.

Reinbold has repeatedly stated her opposition to excessive state travel budgets and inappropriate spending of welfare monies doled out by the state’s Dept. of Social and Health Services.

Kennedy said the state must cut expenditures along with using savings in the Permanent Fund on a short-term basis with a conversion of the Fund to an endowment style of management.

And has already been overhead in area coffee shops dubbing this, “The battle of the church ladies,” another similarity arises as both candidates are religious with each involved in Christian churches on either end of town.

Yet both say their religious beliefs aren’t part of the campaign.

For Reinbold, the campaign – which for her won’t kick off until the current Legislative session concludes – is about state policy on fiscal matters primarily with education and parental rights coming in as a close tie for second.

For Kennedy, the campaign is about uniting the legislative delegation from the local area. She informed Reinbold of her candidacy on Feb. 27 at the Legislative Town Hall meeting held at the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center.

“There is nothing wrong with Lora’s values,” Kennedy said. “She simply isn’t effective now.”

Kennedy officially kicks off her campaign on March 23 at Jitters with an open house from 5 to 8 p.m.

Reinbold said she is prohibited by state law from campaigning or fundraising until the end of the legislative session. Even though her APOC paperwork is in order, she cannot legally accept even voluntary donations until the end of the Legislative session due to perceived conflicts of interest.

Former state Sen. Fred Dyson who remains active in local and state politics in an advisory capacity said he has not decided if he will become actively involved in the Kennedy/Reinbold race.

Editor's note: Rep. Lora Reinbold, a Republican representing Eagle River in the state house of the Legislature, is a member of the Regional and Community Affairs committee. The Star incorrectly stated that Reinbold was no serving on any committees in the current legislative session. 


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