Rep. Mia Costello vacated the seat for House District 22 this year when she decided to run for Senate K instead. Neither of the candidates vying for her house seat have served in the legislature before.
On some issues, Democrat Marty McGee and Republican Liz Vazquez are very similar. For example, they both support allowing the permitting process to continue for large projects, like the Pebble Mine.
“What I’m saying is every mining project should be treated the same and be allowed to submit an application,” says Vazquez. “In the case of Pebble Mine they have not been allowed to submit and application.”
“And it shouldn’t be the federal government making that decision,” says McGee. “That’s what Alaska statehood was about in the beginning. Is that Alaskans take control of the natural resources in their state.”
Vazquez says all mining projects need to be treated equally. But McGee says the permitting process does need refining so the regulations are clearer.
Both candidates also agree the state’s budget is too large, and they can’t say where exactly they would cut without more information.
McGee says he would draw on his 17 years of experience as Anchorage’s assessor to try to improve the government’s efficiency.
“I worked very closely with different administrations on the municipal level of finding ways to have more efficient government and use technology and work with our personnel rules, our job descriptions to cause the budget to fit within the means we have.”
He says examining the capital budget is especially important because he sees too much spending on-large scale projects as leading to the downfall of the state.
Vazquez says she would turn to internal audits to find ways to trim the budget, like she has while serving on the Anchorage budget advisory committee. “So the first thing I would be looking at is looking at their reviews of the different programs and so forth. And figure out what’s waste, what’s not effective.”
Vazquez says the same approach needs to be taken for education issues in Alaska — it’s not about giving more money, it’s about using the money more effectively. “As a legislator I would want to see more better results. I would support forward funding so the district is aware of what funding they have a year in advance, but I would want to be more effective with the dollars that are spent on education.”
She says she would cut materials and supplies before cutting teachers. Vazquez also supports using public money for private schools to give parents more options.
And on this topic, Vazquez and McGee disagree. McGee says public money needs to go to public schools, and more of it. He says the legislature needs to re-evaluate how they fund schools.
“The pattern that the Republican majority has set in the legislature is to cripple and destroy the public education system. I’m absolutely opposed to that.”
Both candidates have lived in the district for decades and raised children there. McGee was born in Sand Lake and has worked in fishing, mining, real estate, and property assessment. Vazquez is a lawyer who was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Alaska 31 years ago. She’s also served on the Chugach Electric Board.
David Nees is also running as a write-in candidate.