Five Democrats Vie For Chance to Run Against Don Young

Next Tuesday 5 Democrats are running against each other, hoping to garner the most primary votes to be able to challenge Republican Don Young for Alaska’s lone seat in the U.S. House. Eagle River resident Doug Urquidi is an electrician. He’s lived in Alaska for 25 years. He wants money put into public infrastructure projects and as an Army veteran, he says he would work to help vets get better access to health care. He also thinks improving law enforcement in rural Alaska should start by asking elders what’s needed. He feels the federal government turns too much to the state.

Sharon Cissna lives in Anchorage and has been a state representative for 14 years. She decided to run for Congress after feeling assaulted by TSA agents in Seattle, but she says her main concern is the well being of every Alaskan. All of the democrats running agree that the climate is changing and Cissna says if she’s elected, she’ll help Alaska prepare for changes in the Arctic, like less sea ice and increased international traffic.

Fairbanks resident Debra Chesnut is a lifelong Alaskan. As a Registered Nurse, she has traveled all across the state delivering health care to rural communities. She says villages need economic growth and she believes one of the ways to do that is to support using federal dollars to help build the road to Nome.

Frank Vondersaar has run numerous times for office and has lived in Alaska for 34 years. The Homer resident is an Air Force veteran. He is a lawyer and an engineer. He says he is pro jobs, pro choice and anti fascist. He is against the Paul Ryan Republican proposal to turn medicare into a voucher system.

Matt Moore runs a medical consultation business in Anchorage and has lived in Alaska for 25 years. He has a degree in geology and believes Alaska can be a leader in Arctic exploration and responsible development. On the issue of social security and whether or not the eligibility age should be raised, he says not now.

All of the candidates support gun ownership rights. They all support federal money for public schools and individuals paying the cost if they choose private or charter school education. And when it comes to opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Anchorage Journalist Michael Carey got answers from them all. Cissna and Chesnut say no. Moore, Vondasaar and Urquidi said yes.

Next Tuesday is the primary. You can hear much more from all of the candidates this evening on Debate for the State offered statewide. Check your local public broadcasting station for the schedule.


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Lori Townsend is the news director and senior host for Alaska Public Media. You can send her program ideas for Talk of Alaska and Alaska Insight at or call 907-350-2058.

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