House District 12 was left without a representative when Bill Stoltze announced his bid for a Senate seat earlier this year. Now two candidates with strong Wasilla connections are seeking to fill that gap.
Ron Arvin, is sending a development message to the voters as the August 19 primary approaches. The two term Matanuska Susitna Borough Assemblyman has an extensive background that involves overseeing federal construction contracts, and work on export trade in Japan, Korea and the Phillipines. He points to his background in state and business trade relations:
“I think what I bring to this race is very unique. Alaska is an export business from minerals to oil to timber and I think that I have the skill set to bring those some of those intiatives further along.”
Cathy Tilton has worked for the city of Wasilla and as a staffer for Republican Mat Su legislator Mark Neuman. She points to her work in helping to build the state budget as a plus during belt-tightening times to come.
“The upcoming years are really crucial. If we don’t get a handle on our state’s budget, our state is going to be bankrupt. And there won’t be the capital that we need to do any of the projects that we need to be open for business.”
Both grew up in Alaska. Arvin, born in Sitka, has three daughters in Borough Schools. Tilton moved to the state as an infant with her military family. She has three sons.
Arvin has served on both the Alaska Industrial Development And Export Authority and Alaska Energy Authority boards and has worked with the Mat Su Borough’s port commission and transportation advisory board. He is an advocate of what he calls the “legacy” projects. He says its time to move forward on the Susitna Watana dam, the Knik Arm Bridge, the Alaska gasline and get going on trucking LNG from the North Slope to Fairbanks. He says all of those projects will help rural Alaskans beat high energy costs
“The state has an initiative to build a facility on the North Slope and to truck modules of LNG down to Interior Alaska, Fairbanks proper. Along with that, those containers could be situated on a barge and could be moved up and down the rivers and could provide alternative, less costly energy to rural Alaska, rather than just fuel oil. ”
He says when private industry gets involved in making energy available to rural villages, the new options will lower costs.
Tilton, for her part, says the state should have a stable tax structure for companies to help lower energy costs.
“I think what our state needs to do is to have a stable tax structure and a sensible regululatory environment so that the companies and the utilities that are creating these types of things are able to do that so that the cost can come down for the people.”
Tilton says her experience on the local government level involved working to help Wasilla grow into first class city status, in working on it’s sewer and transportation systems. But she points to her “over four years extensive work with the state budget ” as her biggest asset. She says she made recommendations and wrote pieces of legislation. She says the state budget needs to be a lot tighter.
“In the Health and Social Services budget alone there’s over 860 grants to all different sorts of programs. There’s lots and lots of good programs, but there are some that I don’t believe the state should be paying for. Maybe some of the repayment programs for different types of educational opportunities. ”
Arvin says his experience on state boards and Borough commissions is a valuable asset, and he has experience in introducing and vetting new legislation. He says that during his five years on the Mat Su Borough Assembly, the mill levy was reduced, saving Borough taxpayers about a million dollars. But he says, on a state level, he’ll focus on key services.
“The people expect government to provide three basic things: public education, EMS fire rescue, emergency services, and infrastructure, so we can move ourselves and commerce effectively. The fourth part of that is the social aspect of taking care of the youngest and most vulnerable in our communities. Everything else is on the table for me. We have to focus on those things first.”
Both candidates favor a ‘No’ position on Proposition 1. And both are against raising the minimum wage, but for different reasons. Cathy Tilton:
” I personally will vote against the minimum wage. I feel like that the private sector has control of the pay they want to pay their people. Clearly the intent and the idea is a good intent, but the effect has been on a federal level has been a loss of jobs nationwide and a significant in crease in consumer prices.”
But Arvin says:
“The issue should be, how do we create jobs that you can raise a family on, not a minimum wage job where you can just simply live, and just barely eke by a living. That’s not what entry level jobs are meant to be. I’m a no on raising the minimum wage. We need to focus our energy on creating sustainable, family wage jobs. ”
House 12 stretches between Anchorage bedroom communities and Butte farms, and the wide swath of attitudes in between the two poles could pose a challenge or any legislator.
At the end of the last reporting period, Arvin had contributed 15 thousand dollars to his own campaign, but Tilton’s self contribution dwarfs that. Tilton has pumped more than 35 thousand dollars into her own campaign, saying that her work as a legislative staffer kept her from campaigning until late May, and that she needs the money to build name recognition.