House 10 stretches from the northern outskirts of Wasilla up to Trapper Creek and the Denali border, swinging West to include Skwentna and the most remote areas of the Matanuska Susitna Borough.
Republican Wes Keller has served the district since he was appointed in July of 2007 to replace Vic Kohring. He’s won every election since, and has served on a wide variety of House committees and subcommittees. He currently chairs the House Judiciary. Keller’s campaign slogan :”Your experienced voice” sums up his involvement in the legislature. Keller reflects pro-family, pro-gun and limited government regulation views.
“I’m ready to take on another two years. I’ve been endorsed by the CPG, the Citizens Patriot Group, the National Right to Life and the National Rifle Association’s Sports Caucus.”
The incumbent was faced on KAKM’s Running by upstart Democrat Neal Lacy, a semi – retired educator, and interestingly enough, a former bow hunting safety instructor for state Fish and Game.
“I would like a chance to be your legislator. I will listen, I will not be condescending toward my constituents.”
Lacy opposes Keller on almost all points. He challenged Keller on women’s issues, resource development and the minimum wage. Lacy charges that some of Keller’s legislation — on voter id — was actually written by the American Legislative Exchange Council, an outside organization which attempts to rewrite state laws. Keller says he only uses ALEC legislation as a starting point, not as a template.
And, Lacy says the Susitna Dam project is a boondoggle.
“The Sustina Dam project is a complete and absolute waste of money. We have spent, since the 1980s, somewhere close to about 400 million dollars, and just this last year, the legislature appropriated 20 million more. We know that large scale dams are a problem.”
Keller says the Susitna project is worth the current level of state investment.
“You know,we need to look at it, and we don’t just write it off , you know, based on some pre-determined predjudice or bias. Even now, we don’t have the information we need to make a rational decision. We are waiting for data, that was part of the deal. That was part of the reason we spent 20 million dollars to get more information to see if it is, in fact, feasible. And I would contend that if the gas pipeline doesn’t come into being and progress, that affordable electricity is still going to be something we have to look at. Maybe smaller projects maybe elsewhere. “
Keller also supports investment in Port MacKenzie, because of the economic benefits it could have for the area.
Keller and Lacy spar on health care, and the best way to keep the budget in check. Wes Keller:
“What we have to do is figure out a realistic picture of what the revenues can be, and then ask the agencies to modernize their budgets to accommodate the amount of money available. And some of the departments have done really well with that already, and we are going to have to ask them again to do it. “
Neal Lacy says cut waste.
“We need to look for efficiencies in everything that we do. My bone of contention comes when we give tax credits to organizations that really do not need them. If your business model requires you to have a tax credit from the government, you probably shouldn’t be in that business to begin with.”
Keller, who serves on the Alaska Health Commission, says escalating health costs in Alaska can be checked with some innovation
“..Introduce competitive services to try to de-regulate some of the things that are going now. We have to start taking some risks maybe, but we need to take the lid off the providers and the industry out there, so they can make the best use of technology, distance delivery.”
Lacy argues the state needs to expand Medicaid
“The governor’s refusal to do that was a huge mistake for the people of the state ofAlaska. As I go and visit the constituents around my area, there are a number of people who could be benefiting, I’m talking about retired people.”
Stirring up the two party mix – Roger Purcell, a former mayor of Houston, running as a non-affiliated candidate
“I didn’t give up my Republican registration, and I’m still a registered Republican.”
Purcell says an effective representative works with city councils in his district to find out what the actual needs are.
Purcell says substandard roads are a big problem, as is flooding and underfunded senior centers. He says the state’s road upgrades are too slow, and that long term loans are available to get highway upgrades on the fast track.
“But unless your district Rep. is able to meet with them and have the dialogue that goes along with it, especially in the upper Susitna area, and our roads, which are way, way overused and underfunded, you can’t really go down to Juneau and find out what the needs are working with DOT.”
Purcell says the proposed Susitna dam is not in the right place, and that he wouldn’t have voted to spend state money on the project.
“Hydro is good, the dam in this location is not. As far as I am concerned, it is not in the correct place to put it.”
Purcell resigned his mayor’s post in 2008, a day before a recall election was set to oust him, but Purcell says the railroad link between Houston and Port MacKenzie came into being under his watch. He says Port MacKenzie is the future economic driver of the Mat Su region.
“Port MacKenzie is actually the future of the Valley and the state of Alaska. And, the reason is, is with the rail spur going in, which I fought for strongly as mayor, when we put the road beside it all the way down, we will have a truck route highway, a real highway going beside the rail spur down to the Port. You’ll see at that point the different mines opening up in Interior of Alaska, the jobs that will be created. With the high unemployment rate we have now in District 10, you’ll see the ability of folks in this area to get jobs at Port MacKenzie.”
As of the most recent reports, Keller and Lacy have spent about 8 thousand dollars each, on their campaigns, Purcell a little over 3 thousand dollars.