Senator McGuire Campaigns to Keep Seat

Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA - Anchorage

During this past Legislative session, Senator Lesil McGuire has honed in on creating policies that support natural resource and renewable energy development. McGuire has served a dozen years and she is currently the youngest Senator in Juneau. She’s being challenged by fellow Republican Jeff Landfield in the primary.

Senator Lesil McGuire is just finishing up a campaign event in Papago Field, near Arctic & C streets in South Anchorage.

“We had neighbors out here today for ice cream just to catch up and talk about what’s going on,” McGuire said.

She wants to work with the community to improve roads and clean up the park. Through redistricting she traded out the Sand Lake area for the Arctic and C Street and Taku Lake areas near Papago Park. McGuire has a special interest in preventing crime and protecting children. She chaired the House judiciary committee from 2003 to 2006, to make things tougher for criminals, especially those that prey on kids. But recently she’s shifted a lot of her focus to energy issues. She agrees with Governor Sean Parnell that the state must lower taxes on oil companies.

“First there’s the trans-Alaska Pipeline, as an immediate focus. That’s 90 percent of our economy. And Right now we’re down to 523,000 barrels a day. It is our lifeline, economic lifeline for sure. And even though there’s a need to diversify our economy, that is something we’ve got to focus on right away. So I think getting a tax structure in place that will attract more investment to the state is the number one priority for me,” McGuire said.

She’s also for building an in-state natural gas pipeline and on marketing that gas to Asia. But she’s not all oil and gas all the time. One thing that she’s proud of is having created some funds to begin diversifying Alaska’s economy. One is an emerging energy tech fund.

“My dream is that Alaska can become a place where those bright minds out there will come and say let’s try our energy technology in a place that has such high energy costs, as sort of a laboratory,” McGuire said.

On forward funding for the Anchorage School District, McGuire says that would help, and she’ll keep pushing for it. But she’s quick to add that after that, it’s up to the district to get better results, and that means looking at teachers and classrooms.

“I think that we should pay our teachers well and I do feel like they should show support for those supplies. I also really feel that there is an issue going on with respect to crowding in the classrooms and we do have to look at that,” McGuire said.

McGuire says she will also keep pushing to increase the base student allocation. On affordable housing she says legislators simply have to find ways to increase the supply.

“Are there some grants out there, are there federal grants, some innovative partnerships that we can do? We’ve done it downtown. We’ve done it in some of the areas where there were blighted properties, you know section 8 housing and things like that, but haven’t really done it in South Anchorage. We haven’t done it in places where people want to live,” McGuire said.

She says more affordable, perhaps mixed use, housing must be considered throughout Anchorage, adding it’s particularly critical for single women, veterans and young families. She says she’ll also make access to healthcare a priority, especially for kids. McGuire says the challenges in education, housing and healthcare show that the state and Anchorage, in particular, are behind when it comes to addressing a growing and changing population.

“We’re trying to catch up to the city that we’ve become. And so we’re just gonna have to sit down and spend some time collecting our resources,” McGuire said.

Lesil McGuire will appear on the primary ballot running against fellow Republican Jeff Landfield on August 28.

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Daysha Eaton is the News Director at KBBI in Homer. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.